Tom Walker nets leveller for young Whites in penultimate game of the season
Tom Walker earned Bolton Wanderers Under-21s a share of the spoils away at Watford on Monday night.
After falling behind to Alex Jakubiak’s well-taken goal, the wideman was unfortunate not to equalise for the young Whites before the break as he crashed an effort against the crossbar.
But Walker did manage to level the scores for Bolton with 15 minutes left on the clock, finishing well after a fine individual run.
Alex Finney, Niall Maher, Filip Twardzik and Tom Walker all started as Iain Brunskill named a strong side for Wanderers’ penultimate game of the league season.
Meanwhile Alex Samizadeh was named on the substitutes’ bench, while Jamie Thomas started in midfield on his return from injury.
In a half of few chances where both teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park, Enock Likoy-Elumba headed wide when well-placed at the far post early on, connecting with Alex Perry’s cross only to be ruled offside.
At the other end, Watford opened the scoring from their first chance after 18 minutes as Alex Jakubiak turned well on the edge of the box before rifling home into the bottom corner.
The young Whites fought back and called Nathan Gartside into action straight away as Filip Twardzik flicked on Jamie Thomas’ free-kick only for the Hornets goalkeeper to punch clear with George Newell lurking.
Tom Walker was unlucky not to net a leveller midway through the half after unleashing a rasping effort, only to see Gartside push his strike onto the crossbar.
Newell volleyed into the side-netting late in the half as a frustrated Bolton side went in trailing at the break.
Fresh from making his first team debut last week, Alex Samizadeh was introduced at the interval and almost made an immediate impact.
Controlling Thomas’ cross at the far post, the teenager looked to beat his man only to see his resulting fierce strike on goal blocked.
Pressing forward in search of an equaliser, Thomas was twice denied by Gartside in quick-succession from free-kicks, before later scooping over from Walker’s cutback.
But one-way traffic it was anything but as Harry Campbell had to be alert to deny Bernand Mensah with his feet from close-range shortly before the hour-mark.
Continuing to be frustrated by Gartside, Nat Phillips saw the Hornets goalkeeper acrobatically tip his looping header over the crossbar.
Samizadeh was desperately unlucky not to equalise soon after as his close-range header from Niall Maher’s cross looked destined to nestle in the bottom corner, only for Gartside to somehow get across goal to tip behind.
But the Trotters finally beat the Watford shot-stopper to net a deserved equaliser with 15 minutes left on the clock courtesy of a moment of magic from Tom Walker.
Jinking his way into the Watford area, the wideman showed great composure to create space for himself before coolly slotting low beyond Gartside.
Campbell had to be alert late on to keep out two strikes from the edge of the area, but neither side was able to find a winner as the match ended in stalemate.
Bolton: Campbell, Spooner (Garratt 67), Maher, Finney, Phillips, Perry, Thomas, Twardzik, Newell, Likoy-Elumba (Samizadeh 46), Walker.
Unused substitutes: Turner, Cvetko, Honeyball.
Under-21s match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors