- Town U23s draw with Bolton Wanderers
- Jack Boyle equalises with seventh goal of the season
- Offside flag denies Terriers a late winner
A competitive Professional Development League game between Town’s Under-23s and Bolton Wanderers ended in stalemate at PPG Canalside on Tuesday afternoon.
Both sides enjoyed periods of control as the contest toed and froed on a rainy afternoon, with the Terriers denied all three points at the death by an offside flag.
Frankie Bunn’s side included overage goalkeeper Joe Murphy, playing his sixth Under-23 game of the season as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery, whilst a trialist played up front in 19 year-old former Bolton striker Enock Likoy-Elumba.
There was also a welcome start for Jamie Spencer; a first since he was injured against Bristol City back in early September.
The visitors were on top in the first quarter of an hour as Town struggled to get hold of the ball in attack, but the Trotters failed to threaten Murphy’s goal. Instead it was Boyle who had the first shot, receiving the ball from the same short corner that he scored from in the last game at Ipswich. Unfortunately, he blazed his shot high and wide on this occasion.
A Jacob Hanson cross flashed across the face of goal soon after before Bolton’s first attempt, with Alex Honeyball heading a deep free kick well wide.
Town left back Dylan Cogill volleyed an ambitious effort off target as Town began to take control of the game as the half hour approached before Boyle forced a first save of the game from goalkeeper Jake Turner; hitting a free kick on target after Olly Dyson was tripped 25 yards out.
Defender Cogill forced a near post save from the custodian with a volley in the 41st minute as the half ended goalless.
Like the first half, it was Bolton who started the second brighter – and this time they tested Murphy on several occasions.
The excellent Danny Kane survived his only nervy moment in the 51st minute when a Bolton player came up on his blindside as he tried to clear the ball, going down as he nicked the ball away. However, the referee booked the attacker for simulation as he claimed for a penalty.
Murphy was on hand to make a good double save soon after, claiming a Jeff King free-kick before springing from his line quickly to block Alex Samizadeh’s shot from a narrow angle. Hanson half-cleared the resulting corner to the feet of Bolton’s Alex Perry, who clipped the ball with a 20-yard curler that Murphy looked to have covered.
Diminutive Bolton striker Samizadeh had another effort on goal just before the hour mark, with his fierce drive from inside the area kissing the top of the bar on its way over.
Bolton’s spell on top finally paid dividends on the hour mark with the game’s first goal. A Bolton player got down the outside of Town skipper Regan Booty too easily and although the first cross evaded everyone, the ball was recycled into the box and Jack Earing eventually tapped home at close range.
Frankie Bunn had seen enough and introduced a trio of subs in Under-18 players Lewis O’Brien, Denilson Carvalho, and Cedwyn Scott; all who could feature against AFC Wimbledon in Saturday’s FA Youth Cup tie at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Their introduction changed the game, with Town dominating most play thereafter. First a trip on O’Brien just as he prepared to enter the penalty box gave Boyle a chance at goal; he curled the effort across the goalkeeper, but wide of the far post.
Town didn’t have long to wait for the equaliser, however, with a 72nd minute corner the source. Town’s players got around the goalkeeper as Booty delivered the ball right under the crossbar and although Turner punched it clear, Boyle (pictured above) collected it on the edge of the penalty area before firing a low shot through the crowd and into the bottom corner for his seventh of the U23 season.
Town continued to press for a winner, with O’Brien slipping at a vital moment after Kane clipped a beautiful pass into his path inside the area.
The best passing move of the game came with 10 minutes left, with Denilson sending a fantastic outside of the boot pass into the box to find Boyle’s run. He tried to square the ball to Scott, only for a Bolton player to slide the ball dead as the striker looked to score.
Town’s players thought they had won the game with the final kick. A free kick into the area was saved before centre back Fraser Horsfall expertly steered the ball into the vacant net from a narrow angle, but the assistant referee’s flag correctly ruled out the strike.
Highlights of the game will appear on HTTV
later this week!
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Joe Murphy; Dylan Cogill, Fraser Horsfall, Danny Kane, Jacob Hanson; Regan Booty (c), Jamie Spencer (Lewis O’Brien, 65’); Jack Boyle, Olly Dyson, Sam Warde (Denilson Carvalho, 65’); Enock Likoy-Elumba (Cedwyn Scott, 65’)
George Dorrington, Rarmani Edmonds-Green