U23s: Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Sheffield United

Young Whites blunt the blades with impressive comeback

David Lee's under-23 side continued their impressive form as they disposed of a talented Sheffield United side despite falling behind early on.

The game's first effort of note after a cagey opening arrived on 6 minutes as Jeff King fired wide from Callum Spooner's cross. Soon after though, the Blades were ahead when David Brooks whipped in his free-kick from the right which Jaaskelainen was unable to keep out at his near post.

King was involved again when he had a penalty shout turned down as the half hour approached as it looked like he had been fouled by an outstretched leg but referee Simon Mather turned down the appeals. 

The Blades almost doubled their lead, however, Jaaskelainen stood tall to deny Jake Wright with a smart stop with his legs from close range after the striker had been played through one-on-one.

The game was really livening up as King then shot wide of Blades stopper Jake Eastwood's post with 33 gone and six minutes later United defender Callum Lees could count himself lucky as he appeared to drag back Matthew Fearnley by his shirt when the young striker was clean through but the referee decided that a ticking off would suffice.

Continuing the theme, King had another two thunderous efforts blocked from the edge of the area in quick succession that looked destined to test Eastwood on 41 minutes.


Ten minutes into the second half, Alex Perry scored a wonderful leveller, the midfielder showed great composure after dancing inside a Sheffield defender to hit a powerful, curling effort from twenty-five yards past Eastwood's despairing dive and into the bottom left corner of the goal.

The young midfielder was really getting a grip of the game and obviously had a taste for goal as he broke onto a measured through ball on the hour mark before narrowly missing the top corner of the Blades goal. Wanderers were really turning the screw now, King's corner causing mayhem in the box after Eastwood dropped the ball, the Blades goal leading a charmed life as it somehow stayed out.

Lee's men wouldn't have to wait long for another golden chance, however, as on 64 minutes, referee Mather adjudged that Jack Earing had been fouled in the area following a corner and duly sent off Jake Wright for what appeared to be a stamp. George Newell stepped up to the spot but his penalty was saved by Eastwood.

Newell almost made amends just four minutes later as he headed over from Cole Lonsdale's cross, then almost immediately Spooner rattled the crossbar with an angled effort after Perry had played him in on goal. 

The Whites defence had been almost redundant such was their superiority but Harry Brockbank had to be on his guard to put his body on the line to block a powerful Louis Reed effort from just outside the area on 70 minutes. 

Wanderers then took the lead on 76 minutes, following a short corner, King whipped in a fine cross that Jack Earing head firmly into the Blades goal on 76 to give the Whites the goal they so richly deserved.

On 78 minutes Alex Samizadeh replaced Matthew Fearnley and within 7 minutes of his introduction, he had unleashed a thunderbolt from what looked an unlikely angle and range, which left Eastwood's right post shaking.

The striker wouldn't be denied, however, as minutes later Samizadeh raced onto a perfect through ball from Perry before calmly lofting the ball over Eastwood into the corner of the net to set the seal on an impressive comeback win for Lee's talented team.

Four minutes of stoppage time were seen out serenely, the impressive result propelling Bolton Wanderers Under-23's into 2nd place in the table and with a realistic chance of making the end of season play-offs after a fantastic run of form which has seen them rack up a superb ten games unbeaten.


Speaking to bwfc.co.uk after the full-time whistle, David Lee said “I was pleased with the application of the players, sometimes the heads can drop when things go against you with a goal conceded in the first ten minutes, but we’ve got some good characters in that dressing room and we told them if they keep doing the right things, chances will come.

“We changed from a diamond formation into a 4-4-2 which suited us better and enabled Callum Spooner and Cole Lonsdale to overlap and delivery some quality balls and also enable us to develop some good phases of play through the middle

“They are all eager to win and we have done it in the right manner tonight. I thought we were excellent, especially the second half, we dominated them and they kept plugging away and plugging away and eventually, the chances came.

"I said to the lads tonight, we'll keep the run going. Ten unbeaten is fantastic and I'll be disappointed if we don't get that 2nd place because for the effort that they've put in this season they deserve something at the end of it."

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Spooner, Lonsdale, Lavelle, Brockbank, Perry, Griffiths, King, Newell, Fearnley, Earing.

Subs: Aspinall, White, Grivosti, Grant, Samizadeh.

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