Max Clayton marks return from injury with a goal as Wanderers extend unbeaten league run
Max Clayton marked his return from injury with an early goal as Bolton Wanderers Under-21s beat Millwall 2-0 on Monday night.
Making his first appearance for nine months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Ipswich Town in December 2014, the forward lobbed Lions goalkeeper Harry Girling to fire the Whites ahead in the opening two minutes.
Clayton also had a hand in Bolton’s second goal after Girling fumbled the forward’s initial strike from range, leaving Jamie Thomas with a simple finish as the Trotters clinched a comfortable win.
Max Clayton and David Wheater both made their respective returns from injury as the Under-21s hosted Millwall.
Elsewhere there were also starts for first team players Francesco Pisano and Liam Trotter, while Ross Fitzsimons started in goal.
Winning possession and pushing forward on the attack straight from the first whistle, Bolton Wanderers’ took an early lead inside the opening two minutes as Max Clayton wasted no time in marking his return with a goal.
Controlling Niall Maher’s pass, the forward spotted Harry Girling off his line before calmly chipping the goalkeeper to fire the Whites ahead.
Building on their bright start, Bolton almost doubled their lead soon after as Jordan Lussey’s free-kick reached George Newell at the far post, only for the ball to be stolen off his feet before he could provide the finishing touch.
Newell continued to be heavily involved inside the first half as he twice more went close to getting his name on the scoresheet inside the opening 15 minutes.
First turning his man well before rifling a shot at goal from the edge of the area which Girling managed to gather, the forward then side-footed narrowly wide from Niall Maher’s cross.
However, the Trotters were not having things all their own way as Ross Fitzsimons produced a fine save to deny Millwall an equaliser midway through the first half, diving full-stretch to tip a powerful long-range strike away.
The visitors went close again moments later as Noah Chesmain raced into the area, only to drag his shot wide.
Francesco Pisano in particular was proving to be a nuisance down the right-hand side during the first half, continually beating his man before whipping dangerous crosses into the box.
Having already picked out Newell with one delivery to the far post, the Italian found the forward again moments later as he rose highest to head across goal at the near post. However, Girling managed to get across to keep out what looked like a certain goal.
Liam Trotter was next to close for Wanderers, powering through midfield before trying his luck, only to fire straight at Girling.
Newell twice more went close with headers from Jordan Lussey set-piece deliveries before the interval, only to see his first effort drift narrowly wide before being denied by Girling once more at the near post soon after.
However, Girling was at fault as the Whites doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, fumbling Clayton’s powerful strike from the edge of the area to gift Jamie Thomas with a simple finish as he rolled home into the empty net.
Jon Ceberio joined the action at the break in place of Clayton as Bolton continued to control proceedings with limited goal action at either end.
Channing Campbell-Young had their first chance of the half after bursting through midfield, only to see Girling get down well to leap on his low effort from range.
Mahlon Romeo had Millwall’s best chance of the half as he volleyed over following a corner, but that was the closest the Lions came to adding to the scoresheet.
Chris Cvetko came on in place of David Wheater after 75 minutes as the defender came through his respective return from injury unscathed.
And while Millwall had a couple of half-chances late on, the Trotters held on to claim three points and extend their unbeaten start to the league season to five games.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Pisano, Maher (Garratt 18), Holding, Wheater (Cvetko 75), Campbell-Young, Lussey, Trotter, Newell, Clayton (Ceberio 46), Thomas.
Unused substitutes: Campbell, Samizadeh.
Development Squad match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors