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Familiar faces help Bolton Wanderers progress in FA Youth Cup

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Wanderers’ Under-18s held their nerve to get past Burton Albion in the second round of the FA Youth Cup.

Nicky Spooner’s youngsters were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes at the Pirelli Stadium and, with no further scoring in extra time, they booked their place in round three via a penalty shoot-out.

Matty Alexander was the Whites’ hero, saving a stoppage-time penalty to keep his side in contention, before playing his part in the shoot-out, with the two teams unable to be separated after 120 minutes.

“The boys played really well without creating that many clear-cut chances,” said Spooner.

“Our play in the final third could have been a lot better.

“Our closing down was good and I was pleased with how well we worked to get the ball back.

“Unfortunately, we were caught napping by one long ball right at the end of the first half so we were disappointed to go in behind but we got a great response.

“We were keeping the ball well but it was the final ball that let us down so the next step for us is to look at getting more bodies into the box and making a few more chances.

“Matty was excellent, he pulled off some great saves, one with what would have been the last kick of the second half and he was brilliant when it went to penalties.”

Bolton had been on top in the first half but went in at the break a goal down, thanks to Yewo Nyirenda’s strike seconds before the whistle.

The second half continued in the same vein with Joe White, Sonny Graham and De-Marlio Brown-Sterling all shooting off-target when chances arose.

The equaliser came 12 minutes from the end of normal time, when D’Neal Richards rose to head in Graham’s corner.

Burton were given the chance to win the match in stoppage time, when Richards brought down Tom Hewlett in the box. The Albion captain took the resulting spot-kick but Alexander dived left to pull off a fantastic save.

Extra time ended goalless, with a red card for Burton’s Matty Richardson at the end of the first 15-minute period.

But the tie went to penalties and, with Alexander saving from Tom Armitage and Tyo Carter and Hewlett also missing for Burton, it was Wanderers who went through to a home tie with Millwall next month.

And Spooner was full of praise for his young charges, many of whom were deputising in the first team when the League One season began in August.

“About six or seven of the lads playing on Wednesday were playing for the first team or have been involved with the squad this season,” he told The Bolton News. “And the experience they got will help them.

“What it has done is shown them the difficulties of first-team football and what is required to get to the next level.

“Right now they are getting the opportunity to train with the first-team squad and the opportunity to get some more games in. It’s great for them.”

Spooner’s side are back in action today with a Professional Development League game at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Kick off at the Eddie Davies Academy is 11am.


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