Report: Bolton 0-1 Burton Albion
Despite a dominant performance, Wanderers exited the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle following a 1-0 defeat to Burton Albion.
Having hit the crossbar through Gary Madine in the first period, Wanderers were undoubtedly the side in control of the clash as Ben Amos remained virtually untroubled while his counterpart Remi Matthews was called upon on numerous occasions.
With just three minutes remaining however, the Brewers struck from distance through Matthew Palmer to secure what had seemed an unlikely victory.
Mark Davies donned the armband for Wanderers in the absence of Darren Pratley, while there was also a Bolton debut for academy graduate Rob Holding.
Wanderers began brightly, with Zach Clough seeing his threaded pass snuffed out at the pivotal moment as he tried to find Liam Feeney in the box.
Goalmouth chances in the opening ten minutes though were few and far between, with much of the play being contested in the middle third of the pitch with the most notable action being a Neil Danns shot which flew wide of the mark.
With each attack however, Wanderers were looking more of a threat with Clough firing a shot directly at Remi Matthews in the Burton goal with 13 minutes gone.
The visitors then proceeded to enjoy their first chance of the game shortly afterwards, with Lucas Akins’ shot from the edge of the box taking a deflection on its way over the crossbar.
Clough meanwhile saw his own effort narrowly elude the goalmouth, with his free-kick taking a wicked deflection on the way through with Matthews stranded.
Wanderers looked set to break the deadlock with 23 minutes gone as Feeney’s free-kick fell into the path of Gary Madine who was yards away from the net, but the frontman somehow put his header onto the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Having previously hit the woodwork on two occasions against Derby on Saturday afternoon, Madine may have been forgiven for thinking that the footballing gods were conspiring against him as he continued his search for his first goal in Bolton colours.
With just ten minutes to go to the break, Feeney created the perfect chance for Bolton to open the scoring as he whipped the ball back after chasing it to the byline, but the winger’s pass eluded any Whites bodies to let Burton off the hook.
It was one way traffic as the half entered its final five minutes, with Clough putting Matthews under pressure, so much so that the keeper punched the ball out of play to save his skin.
Wilson was next to test the goalkeeper, collecting Mark Davies’ pass before forcing Matthews to parry his drive away from goal, while Madine saw yet another effort clear the bar.
There was still time for a goalmouth scramble involving Danns, Madine and Clough on the stroke of half time, but it somehow stayed out to ensure that the clash remained goalless at the break.
With no changes for either side during half time, Wanderers almost drew first blood within two minutes of the restart as Feeney powered throughout on goal, only to be denied at the death by Matthews’ towering frame.
Ben Amos was finally called upon just two minutes later, with the keeper needed to put himself in the way of Jerome Binnom-Williams’ drilled angled shot.
Up the other end of the field meanwhile, Davies saw his shot blocked at close range in a crowded penalty area, while Feeney failed to finish a wonderful team move with just the keeper to beat.
The pressure was building from Bolton, with Burton finding themselves pinned in their own third for much of the opening stages of the second period as the Whites piled forward in their numbers.
Amos was virtually a spectator was Wanderers continued to push forward, while Clough somehow skewed his shot wide of the mark after collecting the ball halfway inside the area.
With 22 minutes to go, Neil Lennon introduced Stephen Dobbie into the mix in place of Clough as the hosts looked to grab the goal which had so far eluded them in the cup clash.
The visitors were still struggling to contain Wanderers, but a stoppage in play due to a head injury to Dorian Dervite saw the tempo of the game drop slightly following the restart.
With time running out, Feeney saw his flash shot down the throat of Matthews parried away for a corner while Dervite saw his own strike from 20 yards saved by the keeper.
Out of nowhere however, the visitors took a shock lead completely against the run of play as Matthew Palmer’s shot from distance deflected past Amos in the Bolton goal with just three minutes remaining.
Throwing Emile Heskey into the mix in place of Feeney, Wanderers entered five minutes of added time with Dobbie’s curled effort being easily caught by Matthews.
Try as they might however, their dominance was ultimately in vain as Burton held out to progress.