REPORT: Wanderers v Liverpool U21s

Amadou Bakayoko came off the bench to help himself to two goals as Wanderers put themselves on the brink of the knock-out stages of the Papa John’s Trophy in impressive style.

A second successive win in the competition took Wanderers to the top of Group D.

And in the bigger picture, Bakayo underlined his well-being following his recent spell out through injury with two of Wanderers’ three second-half goals – including the last of the night from the penalty spot.

After returning as a substitute in last Saturday’s League One win over Shrewsbury, Bakayoko and Wanderers will have bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks.

But the goals will have done his confidence no harm as he and first-half goalscorer Nathan Delfouneso, who added to his effort in the Whites’ opening group win over Port Vale, illustrated the attacking options at manager Ian Evatt’s disposal.

Evatt had been able to make 10 changes to Wanderers’ starting line-up - including handing a debut to summer signing Will Aimson - with only Elias Kachunga on immediate duty again following the win over the Shrews.

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It was an ideal chance to give the summer signing some added game time after just two league starts so far and Kachunga was heavily involved in most of Wanderers’ best bits before the break – including the opening goal.

Wanderers had already threatened once down their right hand side when Harry Brockbank pulled the ball back for the impressive Josh Sheehan to connect with a goalbound effort well blocked by former Whites’ youngster Nat Phillips - lending his first-team experience to the Merseysiders as an over-age player.

Kachunga had been instrumental in opening up the Reds’ defence on that occasion and when he linked up again with Brockbank with 27 minutes gone, Wanderers went ahead.

This time the right-back picked out Delfouneso, whose movement was rewarded with the space to power home a header at the near post to double his tally for the season.

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Kachunga then dragged an effort wide as he went in search of his first Bolton goal before Liverpool’s youthful side – captained by Phillips on his return to his home town – had their best spell just before half-time without seriously threatening Matt Gilks on his return to the Wanderers’ goal.

Kachunga was replaced at the start of the second half by Bakayoko as he continues on the comeback trail and a magnificent ball from Sheehan gave Bakayoko an early sighter of goal he couldn’t convert.

But Bakayoko wasn’t going to waste another chance to get himself on the scoresheet and with an almost an hour gone he made it 2-0 to all but secure victory with another well-worked goal.

This time Delfouneso took on the role of creator as he delayed his through-ball perfectly for Liam Gordon to power over a low cross which Bakayoko drilled home from the edge of the six-yard box to celebrate his first goal since his debut in early August.

Despite the torrential rain Wanderers were enjoying their work as they eased the ball around with freedom and another expansive move brought a third goal just eight minutes later.

This time Brandon Comley switched the play for Lloyd Isgrove to drive in a cross which was deflected into his own goal by defender Jarrell Quansah.

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After a heavy defeat to Rochdale in their opening game, the group stage was proving a steep learning curve for the young Reds.

But they did get their first goal of their campaign when Elijah Dixon-Bonner got a reward for his persistence when stabbing home with 20 minutes to go.

Wanderers weren’t finished, though, and as the group could potentially go down to goal difference a fourth goal was welcome after goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga’s foul on speedy substitute Mitchell Henry with 10 minutes to go allowed Bakayoko to double his tally.

The striker slid his penalty under Pitaluga to make it a job well done for Wanderers, who gave a senior debut from the bench to Academy midfielder Arran Pettifer.

Port Vale’s late winner at Rochdale denied Evatt's men guaranteed progress through but Wanderers very much have their destiny in their own hands ahead of their final group game at Spotland in a month's time when a point will guarantee a place in the knock-out phase.

Bolton: Gilks; Brockbank, Aimson, Baptiste, Gordon; Comley; Isgrove (Henry 67), Thomason, Sheehan (Pettifer 72), Delfouneso; Kachunga (Bakayoko HT). Substitutes: Dixon, Johnston, Tweedley, Conway.

Liverpool U21s: Pitaluga; Wilson (Koumetio 67), Phillips, Quansah, Gallacher; Corness, Morton, Ritaccio (Mabaya 25); Dixon-Bonner; Bearne, Woltman (Cannonier 75). Substitutes: Kelly.

Referee: Andy Haines

Attendance: 2,299

Read Time: 4 mins