Goals in either half from Emile Heskey and Tom Walker seal a comfortable win for the young Whites
Bolton Wanderers Under-21s secured a comfortable victory over Barnsley at The County Ground, Leyland on Tuesday night.
Having seen Tom Walker and Niall Maher both hit the post and Nat Phillips have an effort cleared off the line in a dominant first half performance, Emile Heskey fired the young Whites into a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time.
Tom Walker sealed the points midway through the second half, confidently powering home a penalty as Bolton ended their six-match winless run.
Dean Moxey made his return from injury at left-back, while Emile Heskey started in attack alongside Kaiyne Woolery.
Elsewhere, there were also starting roles for Luke Brattan, Tom Walker and Rob Holding.
In an eventful first half, Wanderers started brightly as Emile Heskey and Kaiyne Woolery linked up well to cause Barnsley problems straight from kick off.
The duo combined to create the game’s first major opening inside the opening ten minutes, the former England international teeing up Woolery only for the young forward’s stinging drive to be blocked by the chest of Bailey Gooda.
Tom Walker was unfortunate not to open the scoring moments later as he drilled an effort against the post from distance, before reacting first to get to the rebound only to lash his strike over the bar.
The young Whites hit the woodwork again soon after as Heskey cut the ball back to Bolton skipper Niall Maher, with the defender unfortunate to see his low, first-time strike beat goalkeeper Nick Townsend, only to bounce back off the post.
It would be Maher’s last contribution of the night as a muscle injury forced him off after 19 minutes, Alex Finney coming on in his place at right-back.
Woolery should have side-footed the Trotters ahead midway through the half following good work from Walker down the left as the midfielder burst into the box before squaring the ball to the unmarked forward.
However, Woolery hesitated allowing a Barnsley defender to get back, before seeing his shot deflected mercifully wide.
From Luke Brattan’s resulting corner, Heskey rose highest to connect with the set piece at the near post but was unable to keep his header down as his effort floated over the crossbar.
Heskey continued to be a constant thorn in the Tykes’ defence, and went close again from Wanderers’ next attack after being picked out by the returning Dean Moxey at the near post, only to see his shot on goal blocked.
Walker was next to close for the Whites as they continued to press in their search to break the deadlock, however, he could only fire straight at Townsend from the edge of the area.
At the other end, Ross Fitzsimons produced a stunning save to stop Simeon Jackson heading Barnsley ahead against the run of play, reacting well to tip the former Premier League forward’s close-range header onto the crossbar.
But that was to be a rare attack for the Tykes, as Townsend was soon called into action once more to tip a fierce Woolery strike past the post.
Continuing to dominate possession, Nat Phillips saw a header cleared off the line following a goalmouth scramble, with Barnsley eventually hacking the ball clear.
Moxey forced yet another save from Townsend soon after, drilling a low strike straight at the goalkeeper as Bolton continued to be left frustrated in front of goal.
However, the deadlock was finally broken on the stroke of half-time courtesy as the Trotters got the goal their first half performance deserved courtesy of Heskey.
Finding himself in space in the box, the veteran showed great composure to calmly slot beyond Townsend across goal into the bottom corner to hand the Trotters a deserved lead at the break.
Despite remaining in control of proceedings following the restart, chances were less frequent for the Whites after the break.
With Rob Holding and Phillips dealing with numerous Barnsley crosses into the box to nullify the threat of Johnson, Fitzsimons was also quick off his line to clear any danger that came his way.
Heskey could have netted his second of the night shortly before the hour-mark after being left unmarked at the far post, but was unfortunate to see his first-time volley fly into the side-netting.
However, Bolton did double their lead midway through the half after being awarded a penalty.
Walker stepped up to confident power home into the top corner, his thunderous spot-kick cannoning in off the underside of the crossbar.
With three points secured, Alex Perry and George Newell were brought on in place of Moxey and Heskey as the half wore on.
Although Barnsley continued to look more threatening at the other end, Fitzsimons was rarely tested as the Trotters looked to see out the game.
Wanderers could have extended their lead further late on as Walker twice tried his luck from range in good positions, once from a 25-yard free-kick, however, he failed to hit the target on either occasion.
But it did not matter at the final whistle, as the Whites saw out the match to claim a deserved victory.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Maher (Finney 19), Moxey (Perry 66), Holding, Phillips, Brattan, Ceberio, Heskey (Newell 74), Woolery, Walker, Cvetko.
Unused substitutes: Campbell, Thomas.
Development Squad match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors