Wanderers Reserves were held to a 1-1 Central League draw with Fleetwood Town at Lostock on Tuesday afternoon, with a late Adam Senior goal rescuing a share of the spoils after Max McMillan had opened the scoring for the Cod Army.
With a ten-day gap between Tuesday's fixture and the first team’s next Sky Bet League One fixture at Wigan Athletic, Sam Hird was afforded the resources to name a strong team to face Town. Returning to action was Gethin Jones following a month or so away on compassionate leave, and Lloyd Isgrove – who had spent the last four months out with a hamstring injury.
Looking to control the game in the early stages, Wanderers looked bright through Isgrove and Elias Kachunga, with the two combining for the latter to force Tom Donaghy into a save before the Town stopper also kept Jay Fitzmartin at bay.
Alex Baptiste threatened after latching onto Kyle Dempsey’s free-kick shortly afterwards, and down the other end, Ged Garner went close, flashing a shot across the goal after Xavier Amaechi had lost possession in his own half in the build-up.
Midway through the first half, Wanderers had the ball in the net, only for the linesman to chalk off Liam Gordon’s finish for an offside decision after the left-sided defender had latched onto Jones’ low cross into the box.
Isgrove’s eagerly anticipated return to action lasted just 25 minutes after he was withdrawn and replaced by Max Conway. The substitution appeared to be made as a precaution following the first sign of strain on the winger’s hamstring.
Prior to his move to Gillingham a couple of years ago, Kyle Dempsey had spent four seasons at Fleetwood Town and against one of his former clubs, he went close with a free-kick which was just too high to trouble Donaghy between the sticks.
Kachunga was industrious during the first half for Wanderers causing the away side problems, and Gordon was looking to provide a supply-line from the left-hand side; his delivery into the box shortly before the break was turned over by Senior.
Re-called recently from a loan spell in the National League North with Chorley, the 20-year-old defender had one final input before the break. Winning a free-kick on the right-hand side, Dempsey’s delivery into the box was headed wide of the target at the near post by Kachunga.
Fleetwood started the second half on the front foot, with Joel Dixon having to be alert enough to make a couple of saves in the opening minutes, and it continued to be Kachunga looking to make things happen down the other end of the field. This time, his deft ball into the box aimed for Fitzmartin was dealt with sharply by Donaghy.
On the 65-minute mark, three of the senior players made way for three academy players with Jones, Kachunga, and Dempsey replaced by Matthew Tweedley, Sam Olawumi, and Arran Pettifer. The latter combined well shortly afterwards with Olawumi who fired a shot straight at Donaghy.
Just prior to the final ten minutes of the game, Fleetwood took the lead through Max McMillan, but Wanderers’ response was immediate – Olawumi firing over the bar after Amaechi was denied; the Hamburg loanee looked like the biggest attacking threat during the second period.
Sam Hird’s side found a deserved equaliser in the final couple of minutes. Liam Gordon did well to deliver a low cross from the left, and Senior made no mistake to slot home from a couple of yards out as honours finished even.
Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, Jones (Tweedley 65), Senior, Baptiste (Burgess 77), Thomason, Gordon, Dempsey (Pettifer 65), Isgrove (Conway 25), Amaechi, Fitzmartin, Kachunga (Olawumi 65).
Goal: Senior (87)
Fleetwood Town: Donaghy, Thiam, Hoyle, Baker, Batch, Bird, Edwards, Macadam, Angol, Garner, McMillan.
Subs: Rees, Johnson, King, Smith, Brown.
Goals: McMillan (79)
Photos: Kevin Hayden