Bolton Wanderers Under-21s did everything but score as they slipped to defeat against Colchester United on Monday night.
With U's goalkeeper Dillon Barnes looking unbeatable between the sticks, both Kaiyne Woolery and Alex Samziadeh were denied on numerous occasions on a frustrating night at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Also seeing multiple efforts cleared off the line, the young Whites were made to rue their missed chances late on as Louis Dunne curled home a late winner for the hosts against the run of play.
Nathaniel Phillips started in the heart of defence alongside Rob Holding as Iain Brunskill named a side featuring a balanced mix of youth and experience.
There were also starting berths for Tyrell Palmer, Alex Perry and Alex Samizadeh, while Tyler Garratt, Will Jaaskelainen, Callum Spooner, Jack Earing and Max Allen made up a youthful-looking substitutes bench.
Wanderers started brightly on a bitterly cold night at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, with Kaiyne Woolery heavily involved in the game’s opening quarter.
Stealing possession in midfield, the in-form forward was denied a superb individual strike early on by goalkeeper Dillon Barnes after shrugging off numerous challenges to burst into the Colchester penalty area.
When he did get the better of Barnes, Woolery was unfortunate not to find the back of the net.
First taking advantage of a goalkeeper slip-up, the 20-year-old calmly slotted past Barnes only to see Cameron James hack his effort off the line, before later rounding the onrushing Barnes out wide to be again be denied by a covering defender.
Alex Samizadeh, who scored a hat-trick against the U’s on his Under-18s debut earlier in the season, was next to try his luck in a one-sided first half, however, his thunderous strike from range was blocked on the edge of the box.
With the young Whites continuing to threaten at the half wore on, Jon Ceberio showed clever feet to evade numerous challenges and walk through the hosts’ defence, only to be muscled off the ball when about to pull the trigger.
Moments later Chris Cvetko controlled a poor Barnes’ clearance in the centre circle before trying to lob the goalkeeper from range, but he was unable to hit the target with his ambitious strike.
Having swapped wings with Tyrell Palmer, Samizadeh was denied by Barnes late on in the half as he cut in from the left before firing straight at the goalkeeper.
Despite controlling proceedings, Bolton were given a late scare in the half as both Nathaniel Phillips and Niall Maher were required to clear Chris Regis’ strikes off the line with Harry Campell well-beaten.
But they were to be rare shots on goal for the hosts in the first half, as the two sides went in at the break with the scores level.