Friendly: Bolton Wanderers U18s 3-2 Fleetwood Town U18sFleetwood Town’s U18s were narrowly defeated in a pre-season friendly at their Bolton Wanderers counterparts at the Trotters' Lostock Training Ground on Saturday morning.
Despite taking an early lead in the first five minutes through Dan Mooney, the young Cod Army fell three goals behind courtesy of strikes from Luca Navarro, Dennis Politic and Cameron Moore.
Mooney netted his brace from the penalty spot after the hour, in what would only be a consolation for Nathan Rooney’s side.
Many of Rooney’s starting side, including Lewis Baines, Dom Kerrigan and Mooney, had featured for the Development squad in two fixtures over the course of the last week.
As play got underway in Greater Manchester, the visitors from the Fylde Coast attempted to get on the front foot early on in proceedings, and Town achieved the perfect start when Mooney netted after five minutes.
The striker hassled Bolton’s backline, before gaining possession 20 yards from goal, he galloped inside from the right-flank into Wanderers’ penalty area to coolly slot the ball underneath the dive of goalkeeper Jake Turner.
Bolton’s youngsters, who are managed by former club cult hero, David Lee, were keen to respond in a swift manner, and were being restricted to long-range efforts on goal.
Soon enough, Wanderers would be level with nine minutes on the clock, after Navarro was played in through the left-channel behind FTFC’s young defence, he applied composure to his finish by bending the ball into the far corner to restore parity.
Later in the half, Fleetwood went close again when an out-swinging corner was met by the head of defender Baines, who toward above his marker, though his downward header was straight into the grasp of Taylor.
Fleetwood’s Tyrell McKenzie later forced Turner into a low stop from a driven effort from the edge of the area, while Bolton went close through Ronaldo Pearson and Politic.
With the half approaching its conclusion, Fleetwood found themselves facing a deficit, as Bolton took the advantage after 43 minutes, a mix-up in defence allowed Politic to scamper clear with the ball towards goal, prior to drilling his shot into the corner.
Play resumed for the following half, and half-chances continued to fall for both sides, however neither could force the issue in the opening stages of the second half.
Bolton subsequently doubled their lead two minutes shy of the hour.
Moore’s improvised Cruyff-turn inside a crowded box to manoeuvre space from Fleetwood’s defence, and net with a placed effort that went in off the base of the post.
Fleetwood were given a lifeline back into the encounter after 68 minutes, when a penalty was awarded.
Up-stepped Mooney, who sent Turner the wrong way, arrowing his kick from 12 yards into the right-hand corner.
Try as they might, Fleetwood could not salvage an equaliser that they craved, but despite defeat, it was another learning curve for Rooney’s scholars, ahead of the forthcoming North West Youth Alliance league season, which commences in August.
Following the defeat at Bolton, manager Rooney reflected upon the game in a post-match interview to the official club website.
Rooney said: "I thought the game was really exciting from minute one, it was exactly the pre-season game we needed. We’ve played against the technical and tactical boys of Bolton, but I think I learned more about to the boys going into the next two weeks.
“Every individual out there has got a decent positive comment to look at, in the first-half, the midfielders had to do a lot more work, though we have seen a progression from the start of last week with the fitness levels."