Jamie Thomas on the scoresheet as Wanderers XI are held to a draw in their opening friendly
Bolton Wanderers XI kicked off their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 draw against Atherton Collieries on Saturday afternoon.
Following a goalless opening 80 minutes, the drama was saved for the closing stages as the Whites firstly broke the deadlock from the penalty spot eight minutes from time, Jamie Thomas the man on the scoresheet.
Enock Likoy-Elumba then spurned the chance to extend Bolton’s lead as he missed his own penalty kick, with Wes Bancroft firing home a late equaliser for the hosts to deny Wanderers victory.
There were starting berths for Conor Wilkinson and Kaiyne Woolery, while Wanderers’ bench boasted the inclusion of William Jaaskelainen and Jamie Thomas.
Former Wanderer Nathan Battersby meanwhile lined up against his former employers for the home side.
Wanderers started brightly, with Woolery causing problems for the home side inside the opening stages of the clash with a couple of well-timed runs into the area.
Atherton were forced to defend deeply, but almost hit the Whites on the counter attack as Gareth Peet collected a loose ball halfway inside Bolton territory, only to see Harry Campbell out quickly to smother the ball away.
Having ran proceedings inside the opening quarter of the clash, Wanderers were then forced to contest much of their ball play inside the middle third of the pitch with Atherton tightening up their defence as the game wore on.
With 26 minutes gone, Bolton looked to have broken the deadlock as Wilkinson fired home from close range after Danny Taberner in the Atherton goal parried Woolery’s initial effort, but the offside flag denied the striker.
Woolery was again in the thick of the action just minutes later as he headed the ball away from the Collieries’ shot-stopper, but the forward was unable to direct his effort on target with the goal gaping.
The Atherton defence just couldn’t seem to cope with the pace and persistence of Woolery, but as the half drew to its conclusion Wilkinson’s shot narrowly wide of the upright and Channing Campbell-Young’s close range miss summed up a dominant yet ultimately fruitful first period for the visitors.
With both sides fielding a completely different XI to that of the first half following the break, it was a case of all change at the start of the second period as proceedings got back underway.
Wanderers almost drew first blood too, with Tyrell Palmer’s header being palmed onto the crossbar by the goalkeeper inside two minutes.
The home side enjoyed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring on the hour mark as they were awarded a free-kick on the very edge of the box, but Matt Boland saw his effort blocked before the same man narrowly eluded a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
Colls’ opportunities appeared to open the game up, with the hosts in particular causing problems as the half grew on.
Despite finding themselves under pressure though, the Whites still looked to be the more dangerous side on the counter attack with Atherton being forced to defend in numbers to keep them at bay.
As the clash headed into its final quarter, the tempo appeared to drop somewhat with much of the play being contested in the middle of the park.
With just eight minutes remaining however, Wanderers finally broke the deadlock as Harry Reilly was fouled in the box by Taberner, with Jamie Thomas slotting home the resulting spot-kick with ease.
Enock Likoy-Elumba then enjoyed a chance to extend Bolton’s lead with just two minutes remaining as he was fouled in the box, but the Under-18 regular put his own penalty wide of the goal.
And Wanderers were punished on the stroke of full time as Wes Bancroft drilled home past Jaaskelainen to earn Colls a share of the spoils.
Bolton – First Half: Campbell, Holding, Garratt, Conaboy, Phillips, Finney, Lussey, Campbell-Young, Wilkinson, Ceberio, Woolery
Bolton – Second Half: Jaaskelainen, Allan, Honeyball, Otshudy, Cvetko, Spooner, Reilly, Elumba, Palmer, Thomas, Perry
Atherton Collieries - First Half: Taberner, N Battersby, Kenny, Holt, Grimshaw, Carson, Truffas, Cooke, M Battersby, Hardcastle, Peet
Atherton Collieries - Second Half: Taberner, Kenny, Shaw, Messer, Gibson, Hardcastle, Cross, Kirby, Boland, Bancroft