Chris Cvetko, Enock Likoy-Elumba and Alex Perry on scoresheet as two-stoppage time goals see Whites come from behind to win
Bolton Wanderers Under-21s pulled off an astonishing comeback as two stoppage-time goals saw them come from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 on Friday afternoon.
After a goalless first half, strikes from Mason Duffy and Will Marsh had seen the Owls take what appeared to be a comfortable lead with twenty minutes left on the clock.
Chris Cvetko pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute to give the young Whites hope with an outstanding 30-yard piledriver into the top corner.
And when Wednesday had Conor Anderson sent off for dissent in the last minute, Bolton ruthlessly took advantage as substitute Enock Likoy-Elumba headed home to equalise before Alex Perry netted an unlikely winner with virtually the last kick of the game.
With Harry Campbell involved with the first team against Eastleigh earlier in the week, Jake Turner was handed his Under-21s debut in goal for Wanderers.
Elsewhere, Will Jaaskelainen was named on a youthful substitutes’ bench alongside Nat Phillips and fellow Under-18s players Luke Griffiths, Jack Earing and Enock Likoy-Elumba.
Taking part in only their second match of 2016, Wanderers’ youngsters inevitably had a little rustiness to shake off early on against Sheffield Wednesday.
In a slow start at The County Ground, Leyland, both sides had their chances in the opening quarter without really test either goalkeeper.
The first opening of the match fell to the visitors as Mason Duffy broke forward following a swift counter-attack. However, Whites debutant Jake Turner was more than a match for the Owls’ forward’s tame effort.
At the other end, Jamie Thomas linked up well with George Newell down the left-hand side as he played in his fellow striker before continuing his run, only to see his subsequent looping header from the latter’s cross float narrowly off-target.
Moments later, captain Quade Taylor burst forward through defence before picking out Alex Perry on the edge of the Wednesday box, however, the midfielder was unable to beat Wednesday goalkeeper Brad McDonagh from range.
Thomas went close again for Bolton midway through the first half as the Trotters won a free-kick 30-yards from goal.
Having repeatedly proven himself as a dead-ball specialist for Wanderers’ second-string this season, the Wales youth international fancied his chances of opening the scoring, but was unfortunate to see his curling effort narrowly clear the crossbar, having left McDonagh stranded.
The Whites continued to threaten as the half wore on as they controlled proceedings, and were unlucky not to take the lead just before the break as Jon Ceberio threaded an inch-perfect through-ball into an unmarked Taylor’s path inside the Owls’ penalty area.
However, finding himself at the opposing end of the field, the defender was hesitant allowing McDonagh to sprint forward off his line and hack clear off Taylor’s toes, ensuring the sides went in at the break with the scores level.
Picking up where they left off in the first half, Bolton continued to press forward during the early moments after the interval and were once again unfortunate not to take the lead as Tom Eaves laid the ball off to Newell inside the box.
Bursting forward past an opposing defender, the striker bore down before trying his luck from an acute angle, only to see McDonagh tip away his strike at the near post.
However, despite rarely being threatened by the visitors, the Trotters found themselves facing an uphill battle shortly after the hour-mark as Wednesday scored two goals inside an eight-minute spell to seemingly clinch three points.
Duffy fired the Owls ahead with a well-taken goal, before Will Marsh sprung the offside trap to double his side’s lead, confidently lofting the ball over Turner when one-on-one.
Enock Likoy-Elumba was introduced to the action late on in place of Eaves as Wanderers looked to find a way back into the game despite the odds being firmly stacked against them.
But a moment of magic in the 82nd minute from Chris Cvetko gave the young Whites hope as the Austrian drilled an unstoppable strike into the top corner from all of 30-yards.
Buoyed by halving the deficit, Bolton continued to press forward in search of a late equaliser and were given further hope when Conor Anderson was sent off for dissent in the 90th minute following the dispute over the awarding of a Trotters’ free-kick.
Thomas stepped up to take the set-piece, delivering a perfect effort which seemed destined for the bottom corner, only for McDonagh to somehow get across goal and tip behind.
With time ticking out, Wanderers got the equaliser their efforts deserved from their very next attack as Likoy-Elumba rose highest at the far post to head Tyler Garratt’s lofted cross into the top corner past the hapless McDonagh.
But the Whites were not done yet as they ruthlessly went in search of a winner, with Alex Finney sending a long ball forward into the box sensing the final whistle was near.
Reading the situation perfectly, Perry popped up in the right place to drill across goal into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the Bolton team and backroom staff, claiming a deserved, while admittedly unexpected, three points having left the visitors with virtually no time to respond.
Bolton: Turner, Spooner, Garratt, Taylor, Finney, Perry, Cvetko, Ceberio, Eaves (Likoy-Elumba 80), Thomas, Newell.
Unused substitutes: Phillips, Jaaskelainen, Griffiths, Earing.
Development Squad match report sponsors: Bristol Street Motors