Tom Eaves and Quade Taylor on scoresheet as ten-man Wanderers come from behind to draw
Ten-man Bolton Wanderers came from behind to draw away at Birmingham City in their first game of 2016 on Monday.
Facing off at the Blues' Wast Hills Training Ground, the young Whites took an early lead through Tom Eaves after Jamie Thomas' free-kick rebounded back off the post.
However, goals from Andrew Shinnie and Emmanuel Mbende saw Bolton fall behind before both sides had a man sent off shortly before the break as Channing Campbell-Young and Charlie Cooper clashed in the middle of the park.
Coming out stronger following the restart, the Trotters clinched a deserved equaliser late on as captain Quade Taylor fired home from a corner to earn a share of the spoils for Wanderers.
Fresh from returning to Wanderers following the end of his loan spell with Sky Bet League One side Barnsley, Conor Wilkinson started in attack alongside Tom Eaves and Jamie Thomas.
Quade Taylor captained the Whites, while Chris Cvetko and Callum Spooner also came into the starting XI as Iain Brunskill made five changes to the side that lost to Coventry City before Christmas.
Wanderers started brightly and were rewarded immediately as they took the lead from their very first attack.
Winning a free-kick 25-yards from goal, Jamie Thomas was desperately unlucky to see his perfectly-weighted set-piece cannon back off the post, having left goalkeeper Connal Trueman stranded.
However, striker Tom Eaves reacted quickest to prod home into the unguarded net to fire the Whites ahead.
Bolton could have netted a second moments later after winning another free-kick in a dangerous position.
Thinking quickly, Conor Wilkinson played in Jamie Thomas to catch the Birmingham defence off-guard in the process only for Andrew Shinnie to get back to block the forward's shot across goal.
Shinnie was involved at the other end too as he looked to create an equaliser for the hosts, playing in Kyle McFarlane with Harry Campbell on hand to deny the forward.
The Trotters went close again from their next attack as Wilkinson burst down the left into the area before pulling the trigger with his drilled effort across goal flying narrowly wide of the far post.
Birmingham were back on level-terms midway through the first half as Montell Moore picked out Shinnie on the edge of the box, with the midfielder evading a challenge before curling beyond Campbell into the top corner.
And the Blues netted their second of the game on the half-hour mark as they turned the game on its head after initial Wanderers' dominance, Emmanuel Mbende volleying home Shane Lowry's cross at the far post.
Buoyed by taking the lead, Birmingham continued to threaten with Campbell twice called into action to keep out Nicolai Brock-Madsen strikes, with Lowry also heading over from a corner before the Dane volleyed a third effort off-target.
The half ended in late drama as Channing Campbell-Young and Charlie Cooper came to blows in the middle of the park, with referee Scott Postin showing both players their marching orders to ensure each side would contest the second half with just ten men.
Birmingham continued to enjoy the better of proceedings following the restart with Campbell continuing to frustrate Brock-Madsen, twice denying the forward with his feet before the Dane headed wide when well-placed on the hour-mark.
Nat Phillips joined the action in place of Alex Perry as the Whites switched to three at the back with Thomas dropping back into the heart of midfield.
The tactical change almost paid immediate dividends as Wilkinson fired a low cross across goal which was just out of the reach of the outstretched Callum Spooner, now operating further forward down the right flank.
Continuing to press forward in search of an equaliser, George Newell came on soon after in place of goalscorer Eaves.
The young forward nearly made an instant impact too as he played in Thomas inside the area, however his eventual shot was blocked despite shrugging off two challenges in the area.
Wilkinson was next to try his luck for Bolton with just ten minutes left on the clock as he unleashed a thunderous long-range effort on goal, forcing Trueman to tip his strike beyond the post.
But the Trotters were level from the resulting corner as Quade Taylor poked home through a crowd of bodies following a goalmouth scramble.
Both sides had chances to win it late on as McFarlane dragged an effort wide before Taylor was forced clear off his own line.
Meanwhile at the other end, Newell broke free into the box before fizzing a strike narrowly wide of the far post from the last attack of the game as entertaining clash ended in stalemate.
Bolton: Campbell, Spooner, Garratt, Taylor, Finney, Perry (Phillips 55), Campbell-Young, Cvetko, Eaves (Newell 68), Wilkinson, Thomas.
Unused substitutes: Turner, Ceberio, Samizadeh.
Development Squad match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors
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