Zach Clough on the scoresheet as Wanderers suffer a slender defeat in latest pre-season outing
Wanderers' second pre-season fixture ended in a narrow reverse at the hands of Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Following an even start to proceedings, the hosts opened the scoring through Danny Rose in the 11th minute of the game with the forward converting from close range, while the Stags doubled their advantage halfway through the first period when Krystian Pearce nodded home.
The deficit was halved not long into the second half however, with Max Clayton and Zach Clough combining well for the latter to slot home, but it was to prove only a consolation at the final whistle as Town held out.
Wanderers’ starting XI boasted a handful of changes to the team who began against Helsingor a week ago, while new signing Mark Howard took his place on the bench after completing his move to Macron Stadium in midweek.
With Mark Beevers handed the captaincy for the Whites, the game got underway in the Nottinghamshire sunshine and it was Wanderers who started strongly, with Zach Clough being dispossessed at the death after forcing his way into the six yard box.
After a relatively tentative opening ten minutes however, the hosts proceeded to capitalise on a loose ball in the Bolton box, Matt Green eluding Ben Amos to pass the ball to an unmarked Rose who slotted home from a yard out.
The first real goalmouth opportunity for either side, the opening goal appeared the open the game up a little more with Kevan Hurst trying a shot from 30 yards with 20 minutes gone that had Amos back-peddling.
Shortly after though, the Stags doubled their lead as Pearce nodded home a free-kick in a crowded penalty area to put the home side in a commanding position in the game.
With 13 minutes of the half remaining, Wanderers enjoyed their best opportunity so far as a combination of Clough and Mark Davies forced the ball into the six yard box, with the latter seeing his point-blank effort saved by Scott Shearer.
Chris Taylor and Bolton were left calling for a penalty kick shortly afterwards after the midfielder was seemingly fouled in the box, but the referee waved play on to the Whites’ dismay.
With the clock ticking down to half time, Phil Parkinson’s men attempted to halve the deficit while Mansfield almost had a third, only for Green’s glancing header to fly just wide of the upright, but the first period ended with Wanderers two down.
With just two changes at the break for Wanderers - Howard replacing Amos between the sticks and Max Clayton coming in for Taylor – the game got back underway.
And it was Bolton who were seeing more of the ball inside the opening stages, although opportunities in front of goal were few and far between.
Eventually though, their perseverance paid off as Clayton slipped a clever ball into the path of an advancing Clough who slotted home with ease into the bottom corner in the 53rd minute to halve the deficit.
Buoyed by their goal, the Whites proceeded to push forward at every given opportunity in a bid to pull themselves level in the clash.
Six substitutions in one go for Wanderers just after the hour mark saw some fresh feet come into the clash, with the likes of Madine and Spearing coming into the mix for the Trotters – the former of which almost made the perfect introduction, only to be dispossessed at the vital moment.
Despite controlling possession for the most part though, the visitors were struggling to test Brian Jensen in the Mansfield goal as the game fell to a somewhat tepid pace.
With ten minutes to go, Wanderers looked certain to draw level as a bouncing ball in the 18-yard box found Madine, but the striker’s close range effort took a wicked deflection off a Mansfield body and fell kindly for the Town keeper.
Inside the closing stages, it was all Bolton as they rallied to equalise with Woolery the main outlet of attacks as the team attempted to exploit his wicked pace as four minutes of additional time were indicated.
Despite their best efforts however, Mansfield's defence stood firm to ensure that the Stags held out for a narrow victory.
Bolton: Amos (Howard 46’), Moxey (Honeyball 73’), Dervite (Wheater 64’), Beevers (Finney 64’), Vela (Pratley 64’), Taylor (Clayton 46’), Clough (Woolery 64’), Davies (Walker 70’), Trotter (Spearing 64’), Proctor (Madine 64’), Wilson (Spooner 78’)
Subs not used: Twardzik, Newell