Bolton managed to come back from two goals down to avoid the wooden spoon in their EFL Trophy group with a 3-2 win over Newcastle United’s Under-21 side.
Both teams went into the match knowing they were already eliminated from the competition, having lost both matches so far, but the winner would at least not finish bottom.
Understandably, Bolton made wholesale changes, all 11 players who faced Salford on Friday came out of the side, but the formation remained the same, with George Taft captaining the side.
It was a chance for the fringe players to stake a claim for the first team, and also a chance for those who had come under fire to show what they can really do. That second bit was in reference to Billy Crellin and Brandon Comley, but both players wouldn’t have helped themselves with the first goal, Comley gave the ball away, and with the ‘help’ of some sloppy defending in between, Elliot Anderson’s shot at the near post wasn’t dealt with well enough by Crellin.
Crellin also came under criticism online for the second goal, being far off his line, but it could be argued that Anderson’s brilliant chipped finish made him look silly, rather than Crellin making himself look silly. Sometimes, players just do good things.
In any case, Wanderers needed a response, and they got that just before the break, with Jak Hickman getting one back. That set up a comeback in the second half, a free kick wasn’t dealt with, which allowed Arthur Gnahoua, off the bench, to tuck home an equaliser, before Jamie Mascoll scored an 85th minute winner.
George Taft, who was one of the players on the night that will have given Ian Evatt something positive to think about, then put in a late block to ensure victory. Ronan Darcy was unsurprisingly well-involved too, he being the other one who proved he could be worth a start in a league game, while it was nice to see George Thomason get his first real run-out for the club, having been recalled from his loan spell.
Bolton now just have the league to concentrate on, with Stevenage the next opponents at the weekend.