STOKE CITY'S Under-21s earned their first points in Group Two of the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with an impressive 2-0 win against a strong Bolton Wanderers outfit at the Lancashire FA on Monday evening.
The win ends the young Potters' five game losing streak and also saw them score for the first time in 2013 following two second half strikes.
Set-piece specialist Lucas Dawson set up Ben Heneghan to head home with a superb free-kick delivery, before scoring the second himself from the penalty spot after John Marsden was brought down in the box by Matt Mills.
Dave Kevan made four changes to his side with Elliott Wheeler, Adam Thomas and Dawson named in the starting lineup, while Under-18s captain Dale Eve was named as goalkeeper, replacing regular number one Daniel Bachmann who is away on international duty with Austria.
The Trotters fielded a strong starting eleven that included several first-team players such as USA international Stuart Holden and central-defender Mills.
City started brightly and Andy Musungu fired in two dangerous crosses from the left wing that were crucially cleared by Mills to deny Marsden a shot on goal.
Heneghan then blocked a goal bound shot before right-back Wheeler fired an ambitious effort from distance just over the bar. Marsden then set up Musungu who fired just wide with the best chance of the half, and the Potters were nearly made to pay for their missed chances when Joe McKee fired in a low shot from a tight angle that was well saved by Bermudan international Eve.
The two sides went into the break level despite Stoke's dominant performance and Heneghan made a goal saving tackle just after the restart, before his centre-back partner Jordan Keane fired wide from 30-yards.
Eve was alert to close down Oluwasanmi Odelusi when he was through on goal, but spilled the ball and it fell to Clough in the box. The Stoke 'keeper was quick to react and make up for his mistake however by saving Clough's shot.
The Potters took the lead on the hour mark when Marsden won a free-kick 35-yards from goal that Dawson stepped up to take. The midfielder whipped in a superb cross to the back post towards Heneghan, who got up well to head in a low and powerful header past the keeper.
Clough went close to an instant reply for Wanderers but fired wide before referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot and awarded Stoke a penalty when Mills brought down Marsden in the box.
Provider-turned-goalscorer, Dawson, stepped up and fired a brilliant penalty into the bottom left corner that beat the 'keeper despite him diving the right way, to double Stoke's advantage within 10 minutes of their opener.
Clough missed a glorious chance to pull a goal back when he somehow fired wide with just the 'keeper to beat from 8-yards out, and Jordan Richardson fired over for Stoke with a volley from outside the box.
Richardson used his strength and skill soon after to hold off three players and play in Marsden, but the striker could only shoot straight at the Bolton goalie. Odelusi missed one last chance for the Trotters but Stoke deserved their win following an impressive display.
Dave Kevan will be hoping his side can now push on following the victory and put in another strong performance when they host Crystal Palace on Friday.
Stoke City: Eve; Wheeler, Campbell, Heneghan, Keane; Dawson (Colson, 77), Richardson, Rigg, Thomas, Musungu; Marsden (Thompson, 83)
Unused Subs: Glasgow, Barrington, Hall
Bolton Wanderers: Lynch; Threlkeld, Kellett, Mills, Bolger; Vela, Holden, Clough, Lester, McKee (Youngs, 70); Odelusi
Unused Subs: Hampson, Sievers, Blakeman, McQuade