STOKE CITY’S Elite Development side kicked off a busy Easter programme by slipping to a 3-2 defeat when they faced Bolton Wanderers at the Weaver Stadium.
The Potters’ Under-21s, who face an Easter Monday clash at home to Newcastle United, were unable to repeat what was a long-awaited victory when they beat Bolton 10 days earlier.
The visitors ran out comfortable winners with a double from Zach Clough and another goal from Cian Bolger despite a consolation effort from Jaden Hall in injury-time which meant that the margin of defeat for Dave Kevan's side was just the one goal in the end.
Bolton had created a number of good opportunities in the opening stages, but had to wait until a minute before the break to make that dominance count as Clough rounded off a penetrating run down the right from Lester with a clinical close-range finish.
Despite that setback and the fact that Wanderers carved out further chances early in the second period, City drew level against the run of play when John Marsden made the most of a rare opportunity with a well-taken 51st minute equaliser.
That leveller merely fired up Bolton to drive forward again and after Daniel Bachmann had denied them on a couple of occasions with fine saves, Bolger restored the visitors advantage when he headed home a free kick delivered by Threlkeld.
A third Wanderers seemed on the cards as they continued to pour forward with great purpose and it eventually arrived when Clough got to the by-line and then squeezed past his marker before firing a low shot past Bachmann from close range.
City were fortunate not to concede another goal in the closing stages, but managed to make the scoreline look more respectable when Hall grabbed a second after both Marsden and Jordan Richardson had gone close in a frantic finale.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Glasgow, Campbell, Dawson, Heneghan, Keane, Hall, Richardson, Barrington, Marsden, Thomas. Subs: Kurasik, Cook, Sanders, Ricketts-Hopkinson, Rigg.
Bolton: Lainton, Threlkeld, Kellett, McQuade, Bolger, Vela (Maher), Lester, Blakeman (Hampson), Sampson, Clough, Odelusi, McKee. Subs: Sievers, Youngs.