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U23s: Bolton 3-1 Cardiff City

14 March 2017

George Newell at the double as the Young Whites make it a fab four against Cardiff

Bolton Wanderers Under 23s racked up their fourth win on the spin against their Cardiff City counterparts on Monday night.

Reece Wabara continued his quest for match fitness at right back and Conor Wilkinson was paired up front with George Newell as David Lee's in-form side started positively, with some bright play creating a couple of openings for the strike pairing in the first five minutes.

Captain Sam Lavelle, impressive all evening in marshalling the back four, popped up in the opposition box with a shot just wide 14 minutes and again shortly after with a glancing header that drifted just over the bar following another set-piece well delivered by Jeff King. 

Wilkinson and Newell both had further close shaves, the former shooting over when off balance after latching onto a searching ball over the top on the quarter hour mark and Newell coming close to breaking the deadlock on no less than three occasions, firstly hitting the side netting from King's back post cross after 19 minutes.

Newell then shot just wide on the half-hour after a neat turn inside the box. 

Harry Brockbank's near post flick-on allowed Newell a further opportunity to open the scoring just two minutes later but he volleyed over at the back post when on the stretch. 

With that, the first half ended goalless, despite Newell's best efforts.

SECOND HALF

With 45 minutes left to play Alex Honeyball replaced Glenn Matthews at the break in Wanderers' only change. 

Lee's fledglings quickly took the lead their first half performance had warranted a minute after the restart through Newell, converting a smart finish through Cardiff stopper Oliver Byrne's legs after Wilkinson had helped the ball into the striker’s path.

Cardiff made a pair of substitutions around the hour mark that helped them gain a foothold in the game but Wabara seemed to grow in stature and more importantly, fitness, as the game entered its final third. 

One lung-busting recovery and smart tackle put an end to a dangerous Bluebirds' breakaway. 

Jake Turner was then called into action for the first time to expertly tip over left-back Rhys Abbruzzese's power strike after 62 minutes. 

Cardiff continued to probe for the equaliser but one of their two substitutes, Macauley Southern, wasted two-headed half chances without testing Turner in the Wanderers goal. 

Jeff King tried to turn the screw for the Whites but saw his shot from the edge of the area bravely blocked after 77 but it wasn't long before the young Whites put the game firmly to bed. 

Wabara's energy and poise down the right touchline paid dividends as his burst of pace made the space for a measured cut back that was struck powerfully into the bottom left corner by Wilkinson for a well-deserved goal with six minutes remaining.

Wanderers were not finished, though, as King's precise cross found Luke Griffiths and his clever touch allowed Newell to steal in and convert his second of the game with 87 gone, in an encouraging all-round display. 

There was still enough time for Cardiff's captain Jamie Veale to blast home a penalty, but it didn't blot the copybook of an accomplished performance by Lee's charges. 

Lee stated he was encouraged with his team's display after the game, with the Whites moving up the table into 3rd, explaining that he felt their good form was "down to the application of the players".

Equally, Lee alluded to the fact the young Whites had done well to keep a Cardiff side at bay who had recently blown away Watford 7-1.

Lee continued, "That desire to work hard against the opposition I thought we did really well tonight."

He was also pleased with Captain Sam Lavelle's performance, saying, "His ability to deal with the ugly side of the game is superb. He read the game well, his distribution was good and he was solid."

Reece Wabara's shift didn't go unnoticed either, Lee commenting, "I spoke to Reece before the game about his intensity of getting up and supporting the forward play and you've seen tonight he was up and down, alert, sharp and created an opportunity for one of the goals. His recovery runs were superb also. That should give him a lot of confidence tonight."

The youngsters' head coach also looked forward to extending the team's excellent run at Selhurst Park, with Crystal Palace up next on Monday lunchtime. 

"The players are chomping at the bit now, in a good vein of form and playing with confidence," he said. "They will relish playing on the best pitches against Premier League opposition."

FULL TIME

Bolton: Turner, Wabara, Matthews, Lavelle, Brockbank, Spooner, Perry, Griffiths, Newell, King, Wilkinson.

Subs: Jaaskelainen, Tanner, Politic, Honeyball, Samizadeh.


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