Wanderers were held to an entertaining 2-2 draw against Sky Bet League Two side Stockport County at their Carrington training base on Tuesday afternoon, with Elias Kachunga and Conor Bradley finding the net in the second half.
Stockport had the first chance of the game with Ollie Crankshaw’s attempted lob held onto by Joel Dixon after Kyle Wootton had won the initial flick on to open up the opportunity.
The first half was a fairly evenly fought contest but it was Wanderers who had the lion’s share of the chances; the first coming the way of Declan John. MJ Williams switched play brilliantly to his fellow Welshman and he got into the box and kept his composure under pressure before firing a right-footed effort wide of the mark.
Ian Evatt’s men had grown into the game and a couple of good chances fell the way of Amadou Bakayoko. First he saw a shot deflected over the bar via a block from Mark Kitching after being played through by Dion Charles, and he then fired an effort over the bar after latching onto George Thomason’s through ball.
Before the half was out, Elliot Newby turned a ball over the bar at the far post after stretching to connect with Crankshaw’s cross from the left-hand side.
The same two elevens took to the field for the start of the second half, and Dixon produced a fine save to deny Crankshaw from close range after the hosts had won the ball high into Wanderers territory.
Dixon then produced another fine save to keep out Wootton’s header after the big forward had connected with Antoni Sarcevic’s cross from the right.
After an hour, both teams made mass changes with Wanderers changing the entire eleven to play out the remainder of the game. Within a couple of minutes though, Stockport took the lead with Will Collar lashing a ball past James Trafford from an angle inside the penalty area.
Stockport’s lead barely lasted sixty seconds before Wanderers found the equaliser. Elias Kachunga latched onto a loose ball and was initially denied by Ben Hinchliffe before confidently heading in the rebound for his third goal in as many pre-season fixtures.
Three minutes later Wanderers took the lead. After he was picked out by George Johnston’s incisive pass, Conor Bradley lashed a shot across Hinchcliffe and into the bottom corner from just outside the box. A fantastic goal to give the Whites the lead for the first time in the contest.
Substitute Dapo Afolayan went close for Wanderers before Myles Hippolyte curled a fantastic shot into the top corner past a helpless Trafford with a quarter of an hour remaining to bring Stockport back level.
Afolayan was a constant threat in the latter stages and after he’d latched onto a loose pass, he then ventured into the box before seeing a low drive blocked importantly by Ash Palmer. A strong piece of defending to prevent Wanderers from scoring for the third time. Ian Evatt’s men piled on the pressure late on with a flurry of corners, but both sides ultimately had to settle for a draw.
Stockport County Starting XI: Hinchliffe, Newby, Rydel, Minihan, Horsfall, Kitching, Lemonheigh-Evans, Croasdale, Wootton, Sarcevic, Crankshaw.
Stockport County Final 30 minutes XI: Hinchliffe, Keane, Palmer, Johnson, Whitfield, Collar, Hippolyte, Pye, Jennings, Madden, Quigley.
Bolton Wanderers Starting XI: Dixon, Aimson, Almeida Santos, Iredale, Sadlier, John, Williams, Thomason, Lee, Charles, Bakayoko.
Bolton Wanderers Final 30 minutes XI: Trafford, Jones, Senior, Johnston, Bradley, Conway, Morley, Dempsey, Afolayan, Böðvarsson, Kachunga.
Stockport County Goals: Collar (62), Hippolyte (76)
Bolton Wanderers Goals: Kachunga (63), Bradley (65)