Fleetwood Town’s Under-18s fell to a narrow 2-1 loss to Bolton Wanderers at Poolfoot Farm, with Donte Thompson-Prempeh scoring late onto to provide a tense ending to the game.
Town started the game well and even forged the first chance of the clash as Zane Marsh found some space and decided to unleash an effort on goal, which hit the wrong side of the side-netting, after nearly converting the teasing ball to the far post.
The away team then began to find their feet in the game and pushed forwards towards the Fleetwood goal, with Connor Eastham called upon a few times in the first 15 minutes, but the goalkeeper was a match to the efforts placed on his goal, saving each one that came at him.
Max McMillan had a couple of chances to open the scoring soon after and was unfortunate with his first as he couldn’t quite get on the end of Brad Arthur’s low-cross, which was hit across the six-yard box.
Just after the half hour mark, McMillan was forward again and must have thought he opened the scoring but his strike from the edge of the box went just shy of the far post, leaving the Bolton goalkeeper stranded.
A couple of minutes later, a Roman Khela foul inside the Town box led to a penalty being awarded to the visitors, but with that, the eventual effort was stopped as Eastham pulled off an outstanding save to keep the score level.
That was it for the first half, but the second half would be full of action. Inside the opening 10 minutes, Pharrell Brown took on four Bolton players and went down in the box, but the referee waved it away and Bolton then countered rapidly, and their number 10 placed his strike in the far corner, one which Eastham could do nothing about.
Just three minutes after, Bolton doubled their lead as a low cross along the floor of the six-yard box struck Ryan Hand’s leg and deflected into his own net, before defender Billy Batch received a second yellow – his first came early in the game - after a long discussion between the linesman and the referee.
This wasn’t the only dismissal in the game as Bolton’s number eight was shown a straight red card in the last 20 minutes of the game after a hard challenge on Liam Roberts, meaning both sides were down to 10 men.
With the last chance of the game, Thompson-Prempeh managed to pull a goal back for Fleetwood with five minutes to go as his strike from the edge of the box snuck past the Bolton goalkeeper, leading to a nervy end for the visitors, but it wasn’t meant to be as the score line would finish as 2-1 on the day.
Simon Wiles, Under-18s coach, said after the game: “I thought it was a good game between two competitive teams. It was a good learning experience for our young players that were out there today, and we will take what we’ve seen in this game into next week’s fixture, where we’ve got Burnley on Tuesday night.
“I thought Connor [Eastham] was brilliant for us today, making the penalty save, and other saves at key moments in the game. Goalkeepers build their confidence from moments like that and he has certainly put some good performances in as of late and he is progressing in terms of his development – which is key.”
Town XI: Eastham (GK), Khela, Batch, Teale, Hand, Wallace, Marsh (Roberts 60’), Jones, McMillan (Daha 70’), Brown (Thompson-Prempeh 60’), Arthur.