Stoke City Under-21s 2 (Rossi, Ward)
Bolton Wanderers Under-21s 6 (Threlkeld, Youngs (2), Wilkinson (3))
Stoke City’s development squad suffered their heaviest defeat of the season against Bolton Wanderers on Monday evening.
The visitors were the dominant side throughout at a chilly Weaver Stadium and ran out comfortable winners with Conor Wilkinson registering a hat-trick.
Second half strikes from Karim Rossi and Charlie Ward proved to be little consolation for City as they slipped to their second consecutive loss.
The Potters were fortunate not to fall behind in the first eight minutes when Georg Iliev sliced open the Stoke defence with a great pass to release Wilkinson but the striker saw his effort saved from point-blank range by Daniel Bachmann.
Bolton had a further two chances in quick succession which they were unable to convert as Tom Youngs and Zach Clough both had shots comfortably saved by Bachmann after great approach play.
The visitors got their reward however on 13 minutes when Wilkinson played in Youngs who clinically finished past Bachmann.
The duo combined once again five minutes later to lethal effect and this time Young turned provider for Wilkinson as his pass released the forward who coolly fired in from close range.
Wanderers were dominating proceedings and added a third midway through the half when Jan Gregus’ right wing corner was flicked on by Iliev to Oscar Threlkeld and the unmarked defender made no mistake from six yards.
City almost mustered an equaliser after 25 minutes but Jermaine Pennant’s delightful ball into the box was fired straight at Arran Lee-Barrett by the onrushing Ward.
Glyn Hodges’ side were trying to find a way back into the game and almost grabbed a goal back when a determined Rossi cut in from the left and unleashed a shot which went just wide.
The Potters were squandering possession far too easily in midfield however and Youngs went close with an effort which flew just over, before he made it four on the stroke of half-time when Clough intercepted Maurice Edu’s weak pass and played in the striker who finished with aplomb.
Stoke made a positive start to the second period and managed to pull a goal back after an excellent run down the right by substitute Jake Cook was rewarded when his cross into the box was controlled by Rossi and then fired past Lee-Barrett.
The home side were unable build on the goal though and fell further behind on 67 minutes after Iliev headed the ball into the path of Wilkinson and he fired past Bachmann from 12 yards.
Minutes later Bolton made it six as Bachmann could only push Clough’s powerful drive into the path of Wilkinson who easily grabbed his third of the game with a simple tap in.
It could have been seven on 76 minutes but Gregus hit the upright before Stoke went down the other end and scored through Ward who drilled past the Bolton ‘keeper after Ness’ shot was only half cleared to the midfielder on the edge-of-the-area.
The Potters had two further chances to add to the scoreline in the final 10 minutes but were denied by clearances on the line as Rossi and Ben Heneghan went close.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Watkins (Cook 12), Wheeler, Edu (Richards 59), Heneghan, Grant, Pennant, Ness (Dawson 77), Alabi, Ward, Rossi. Subs not used: Eve, Lecygne.
Bolton Wanderers: Lee-Barrett, White, Matthews, Threlkeld, Holding, Woodland, Iliev, Gregus, Wilkinson (Knight 73), Clough, Youngs. Subs not used: Kelly, Sutherland, Bailey, Hinchcliffe.