U21s: Bolton 2-2 Crewe Alexandra

Tom Eaves and Jamie Thomas both scored as young Whites come from behind to draw

Bolton Wanderers Under-21s came from behind to draw against Crewe Alexandra on Monday night.

Facing off at The County Ground, Leyland, Tom Eaves fired the young Whites ahead early on from Jamie Thomas' cross.

Bolton continued to dominate the first half and were unfortunate not to double their lead as Thomas stuck the post following a fantastic solo-run.

However, goals in each half from Charlie Kirk and Tom Lowery saw the Railwaymen turn the game on its head.

But just as it looked like the visitors would hold on to win, Thomas headed home from close-range to ensure Bolton's unbeaten start to 2016 continued.

Niall Maher returned from injury to captain Wanderers, while Harry Campbell returned in goal as Iain Brunskill made two changes to the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday.

Callum Spooner and Jake Turner dropped to the substitutes' bench, taking their places alongside Nat Phillips, Luke Griffiths and Enock Likoy-Elumba.

Wanderers started brightly in blustery conditions at The County Ground, Leyland in what proved to be a one-sided first half.

Threatening early on through a succession of corners, the first shot of the night fell to the Whites as Alex Finney connected with a set-piece at the far post, but he was unable to beat goalkeeper Dave Richards.

Bolton did not have to wait long to take the lead however, as they made their early pressure pay during the game's opening quarter.

Finding space down the left, Wales youth international Jamie Thomas picked out an unmarked Tom Eaves in the middle with a low, searching cross, leaving him with a simple finish as he coolly slotted home from close-range.

Eaves twice went close to doubling the Trotters' lead moments later as Wanderers continued to dominate proceedings early on.

First seeing a slight deflection divert his fizzing strike narrowly wide after the forward found space on the edge of the box, Eaves later headed over the crossbar when under pressure after rising to connect with another Thomas' cross from the left.

Jon Ceberio was next to try his luck for the young Whites as he managed to get the end on two successive corners.

However, after first seeing his looping header kept out by Richards, the Spaniard was unable to hit the target with his second headed chance soon after.

Richards was on hand to deny Bolton yet again midway through the half, palming away Alex Perry's stinging drive from George Newell's cutback.

Yet despite their dominance in front of goal, the Trotters were almost made to rue their missed opportunities after a defensive error nearly gifted Crewe an equaliser midway through the half.

Callum Saunders took advantage of the mix-up to steal possession and burst into the area, however, Harry Campbell was off his line quickly to deny the forward when left one-on-one.

Having set up Eaves' opener, Thomas almost doubled Wanderers' lead with an outstanding solo-effort as creator nearly turned scorer.

Cutting in from the right, the forward shrugged off a couple of Crewe challenges as he worked his way into a shooting position, only to see his left-footed curling effort from the edge of the box cannon back off the post with Richards well-beaten.

Thomas went close again soon after, heading wide from a cross, before captain Niall Maher dragged a strike narrowly wide after cutting inside.

However, the Whites' missed opportunities did come back to bite them as Crewe managed to level the scores late on in the half from one of their rare attacks on goal.

Controlling the ball inside the box, Charlie Kirk showed great feet to create space before curling an unstoppable strike into the bottom corner.

Both teams had their chances to take the lead heading into the interval as Campbell kept out a Saunders header at the near post, while Eaves saw a cross-cum-short cleared off the line.

There was still time for Chris Cvetko to drill a long-range strike narrowly wide as the two sides went in at the break with the scores level. 

Playing into the wind after the interval, Bolton created the first opening of the half as Newell saw the ball cleared off his toes after Cvetko's powerful strike was fumbled by Richards.

However, as the conditions continued to play havoc, the Trotters were unable to replicate their dominant nature of the first half, with Campbell having to be alert to keep out a tame lobbed effort from Kirk.

Crewe took the lead just before the hour-mark after Campbell was left facing two Railwaymen forwards in the box, Kirk squaring to Tom Lowery to provide the finishing touch.

And the visitors could have extended their lead further only for a slight deflection to divert Oliver Finney's low 25-yard free-kick away from goal.

At the other end, Eaves went close again when left unmarked in the box after thundering a powerful first-time strike towards the bottom corner, only for Richards to get down low to save.

But just as it looked like Crewe would hold on to win, Thomas managed to provide the finishing touch to a late corner, heading home from close-range to seal a share of the points for Wanderers.



Bolton: Campbell, Maher, Garratt, Finney, Taylor, Perry, Cvetko, Ceberio (Phillips 71), Eaves (Likoy-Elumba 85), Thomas, Newell.

Unused substitutes: Turner, Griffiths, Spooner.

Development Squad match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors
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