Bolton Wanderers exited the U21 Premier League Cup after coming out on the wrong side of a seven-goal thriller against Sheffield United on Monday night.
Falling behind to a Joel Coustrain volley, George Newell equalised midway through the first half with a well-taken goal, only for Ben Whiteman to restore the visitors’ lead from the penalty spot.
Alex Samizadeh and Jon Ceberio both responded to Otis Khan and Jake Wright second half strikes, but the Whites were unable to find an equaliser as they exited the competition at the second qualifying round stage.
Alex Samizadeh partnered George Newell in attack as he was handed only his second Under-21s start, with Jon Ceberio lining up behind the front two.
Elsewhere, there were also starts for Alex Finney, Rob Holding, Quade Taylor and Filip Twardzik, as well as a place on the bench for Tyrell Palmer following his brace for the Under-18s against Hull City on Saturday.
In what proved to be an end-to-end encounter at The County Ground, Leyland, both sides showed their attacking intent early on with both unfortunate not to score inside the opening ten minutes.
Having seen Channing Campbell-Young already rifle a half-volley narrowly over, Filip Twardzik curled a 25-yard free-kick agonisingly over the crossbar having left goalkeeper George Long well-beaten.
At the other end, Kler Heh stole possession from Quade Taylor on the edge of the Wanderers box, but was unable to hit the target with only Harry Campbell to beat.
However, the Blades did not have to wait long to take the lead as Joel Coustrain emphatically volleyed home following a corner.
Responding immediately, George Newell drew the Whites level moments later as he confidently finished first-time past long after running onto Jon Ceberio’s pinpoint through-ball.
Losing Newell to injury soon after with Tyrell Palmer coming on in his place, Bolton found themselves behind once more just after the half-hour mark as Ben Whiteman sent Harry Campbell the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Looking to draw level before the interval, Ceberio was unfortunate to slip inside the area after being picked out by Jordan Lussey, allowing Long to gather comfortably to maintain Sheffield United’s lead at the break.
With Tyler Garratt coming on for Alex Finney at half-time, Campbell-Young drilled narrowly wide from range as Wanderers looked to attack from kick-off following the restart.
However, they found themselves further behind from the Blades very next attack as Otis Khan slotted home from close-range.
Again prompting an immediate response, Alex Samizadeh maintained his impressive goalscoring form as he cut in from the left, side-stepping two defenders before rifling into the bottom corner.
Chris Cvetko replaced Channing Campbell-Young as the Whites looked to chase an equaliser just before the hour-mark, but it was Sheffield United who looked the more threatening as the half wore on.
Quade Taylor denied the Blades a fourth goal with a superb clearance off the line to deny Heh after Campbell was beaten by a square-pass.
But there was nothing he could to stop Sheffield United from extending their lead moments later as Jake Wright restored the visitors’ two-goal lead from Heh’s cutback.
Ceberio slotted home for Bolton to set up a dramatic finish with 20 minutes left on the clock, while Cvetko was denied late on as Long dived full-stretch to keep out his fizzing free-kick.
But try as they might, the Trotters were unable to force an equaliser to take the tie into extra-time.