Youngsters slip to narrow defeat against the Blades in Leyland
Wanderers’ Under-21s suffered a late defeat at the hands of their Sheffield United counterparts at The County Ground, Leyland on Monday evening.
Following a delayed kick off due to a late arrival on the visitors’ part, Kaiyne Woolery appeared to have broken the deadlock with 16 minutes on the clock but the striker was penalised for an apparent foul on the goalkeeper to ensure that the scores remained level.
As the game wore on, chances went begging for both sides with the Blades seeing an effort cleared off the line by Callum Spooner while Bolton forced a number of saves out of the United goalkeeper.
And it wasn’t until the 84th minute of the clash that the deadlock was finally broken, with David Brooks nodding the visitors ahead from close range to secure all three points in what was a tightly contested affair.
Tom Eaves was included from the off for Wanderers with the striker forming an attacking line-up alongside Woolery and Jamie Thomas.
There was also a place for Ross Fitzsimons between the sticks for Bolton with the 21-year-old replacing fellow shot-stopper Harry Campbell who dropped to the bench.
In a fairly contested opening to the game, chances for both sides were few and far between.
And it took until the 16th minute of the encounter for any really goalmouth action, with Woolery seemingly handing Wanderers the lead after taking advantage of a lack of handling by the Blades’ keeper, but the striker was penalised for a foul on the shot-stopper.
Shortly afterwards however, Bolton came close in quick succession with Quade Taylor’s header flying narrowly over the crossbar while Thomas’ free-kick from all of 30 yards sailed agonisingly over George Willis’ goalmouth.
Iain Brunskill’s side were the team in the ascendancy, but United were left crying for a penalty in the 25th minute as Jake Wright collided with Fitzsimons, but the referee remained unmoved and signalled for a goal kick.
Channing Campbell-Young then tried his luck from distance with only the fingertips of Willis denying him the opening goal of the game, while up the other end Joel Coustrain’s mazy run and consequent drilled effort was comfortably smothered by Fitzsimons.
It seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken, with each team giving their all in a bid to make the breakthrough.
And it appeared to have come in the form of Sheffield United’s Conor Dimaio with three minutes of the half left as he unleashed a well-timed volley just inside the box, but Callum Spooner was in the right place at the right time to hook his effort off the line.
Jake Phillips was next to attempt to thwart Fitzsimons and Bolton’s rearguard, only to see the Whites’ keeper snatch his shot into his grasp.
That was to be the final chance of the first period however as the referee blew for half time.
There was just the one change for Wanderers at the break, with Jon Ceberio replacing Eaves in the Whites’ line-up.
But it was the visitors who started the stronger of the two sides, with Fitzsimons forced to be on his guard for much of the opening stages of the second period.
Wright meanwhile attempted to fire United ahead twice in quick succession, but saw his free kick firstly slam into the wall and then a drive from just inside the box blocked by the body of Alex Finney.
Woolery meanwhile, eager to make amendments for his earlier disallowed effort, forced Willis into a superb reflex save from a counter attack.
The frontman was in the thick of the action again just moments later, this time forcing his way into the box following an impressive run down the left flank to tee up the advancing Alex Perry, but the academy graduate’s final effort flew over the crossbar.
The game fell into something of an end-to-end encounter and Ben Whiteman looked destined to open the scoring on the hour mark with a well-taken free-kick, only to see his perfectly executed delivery strike the inside of the post and roll away.
In response, Bolton broke on the counter once again and with just the keeper to beat, Woolery narrowly failed to connect with a pin-point ball across the face of goal.
The ascendancy was growing on the Whites’ part, although the visitors still looked a threat when pouring forward on the counter attack.
Jamie Thomas came within inches of finding what had seemed to be an elusive goal with 12 minutes to go as he skulked in behind the Sheffield United defence in the midst of a corner kick, but the forward narrowly failed to connect with the ball with Willis beating him to it by a whisker.
With the game now inside its final ten minutes, it was all hands to the pump for both teams with each side visibly not happy to settle for a share of the spoils.
And the deadlock was finally broken with six minutes left, Brooks nodding home unmarked at the far post for the visitors to hand them the lead inside the closing stages.
A cruel blow to Wanderers who had stood firm in defence throughout, the hosts threw everything forward as the clock ran down but it wasn't to be as they ended the game on the losing side.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Spooner, Garratt, Phillips, Taylor, Finney, Perry, Thomas (Newell 87), Woolery, Campbell Young, Eaves (Ceberio 45)