Youthful Wanderers side suffers convincing defeat at Victoria Park
A young Bolton Wanderers side fell to a 3-0 defeat against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
Goals from Emmanuel Ledesma, Callum Cooke and Luke Williams sealed all three points for the Teesiders as they clinched promotion to Division One.
Ryan Sellers had the Whites’ best chance shortly before the break, hitting the crossbar with a thunderous free-kick, but it was to be a rare shot on goal from Bolton as they were on the wrong end of a convincing result.
Georg Iliev captained a youthful Wanderers side as Iain Brunskill made seven changes to the team that lost to Brighton & Hove Albion last week.
Under-18s regulars Callum Spooner, Nat Phillips, Alex Perry, Chris Cvetko and Tyler Garratt came into the starting XI, while there were also places on the bench for Max Allen, Daniel McKenna and Tyrell Palmer.
Elsewhere, there was also a recall for Elliot Newby as well as a start for player-coach Andy Hughes.
With Wanderers including five under-18s players in their starting line-up and Middlesbrough needing victory to secure promotion to Division One, both sides started nervously in a half of few chances at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park.
Chris Cvetko had an early chance for the Whites after turning well on the edge of the area. However, he was unable to connect properly with his subsequent shot as his looping effort was gathered with ease by goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
Despite limited opportunities at either end for the majority of the half, Middlesbrough began to make their experience count as they pressed forward for an opener.
Harry Campbell had to be alert to keep out Emmanuel Ledesma’s curling effort from the edge of the box in the 37th minute after the midfielder had pounced on a weak Andy Hughes clearance.
However, Ledesma was not to be denied five minutes later as he fired the Teesiders ahead with a powerful low shot across goal from inside the area.
Bolton fought back and were unfortunate not to equalise immediately after winning a free-kick on the right-hand flank 25-yards from goal.
Ryan Sellers stepped up to take the kick and was unlucky to see his thunderous, curling effort cannon back off the underside of the crossbar with Ripley well-beaten.
The rebound fell to Elliot Newby but with bodies in the way, the winger’s first-time side-footed strike drifted narrowly wide, as the referee blew for half-time soon after.
The Trotters were on the backfoot straight from the word go as Middlesbrough pressed forward looking to double their lead.
Robbie Tinkler hit the crossbar from range just short of the hour-mark with Luke Williams on hand to poke home the rebound only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
Harrison Chapman scuffed an effort wide after breaking free down the left-hand side moments later as Wanderers continued to live dangerously as the half wore on.
Despite founding themselves repeatedly under pressure, the young Whites continued to defend valiantly as they frustrated the hosts.
However, Middlesbrough doubled their midway through the half as Callum Cooke tucked away their second of the night from close-range following a swift counter-attack.
It was 3-0 soon after following good work from Williams in the box as the forward held off a couple of challenges with his back to goal, performing a number of keepie uppies before turning and volleying home.
Bolton tried in vain for a late consolation with Georg Iliev testing Ripley with a long-range free-kick.
However, it was to be a rare shot on goal in the half for the Trotters as they fell to a convincing defeat.
Bolton: Campbell, Spooner, Sellers, Boben, Phillips, Hughes (McKenna 65), Newby, Perry, Iliev, Cvetko, Garratt.
Unused subs: Allen, Fitzsimons, Palmer.
Middlesbrough: Ripley, Bennett, Jackson, Burn, Kitching, Maloney, Ledesma, Tinkler, Williams, Cooke, Chapman.
Unused subs: Fry, Fryer, Wheatley, Morelli, McAloon.
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