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U23s End Season With Comeback Victory Over Bolton
Monday, 23rd Apr 2018 21:11 by James Ager

Town's U23s finished their league campaign with a fine comeback to defeat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at Portman Road on Monday evening. Goals from Conor McKendry (pictured) and Shane McLoughlin (pen) followed by a stoppage time winner from Jack Lankester secured the win for a young Blues side.

Town named trialist Dennon Lewis in their starting XI and the Watford youngster, who has been told he will be released by the Hornets at the end of the season, lined up on the left side of midfield.

Behind him, Bailey Clements started at left-back in a late change to the advertised team with Chris Smith dropping out and Pat Webber moving across to centre-back.

Blues keeper Harry Wright was forced into a good save down low to his left inside the first minute but he could do nothing to prevent Connor Hall firing the visitors into a third minute lead. The striker did well to control a long ball into the box on his chest before he turned and found the top corner from close range.

Wright then parried Cole Lonsdale's effort from distance well away from danger, shortly before he was forced into an acrobatic save to claw a fierce volley away from the top corner.

Moments later Hall was released again but this time his lobbed effort beat the advancing Wright but dropped just wide of the near post.

Although the young Blues, who were overseen by Geraint Williams following Gerard Nash and Chris Hogg's temporary promotion to first-team duties, failed to create any chances of note in the remaining part of the opening period, they did at least stem the wave of early attacks from the visitors.

Right-back Idris El Mizouni picked up the game's first caution on 38 for a foul on Ryan White in what proved to be the last action of the first half.

Within a minute of the restart Town were level. The ball was played to McKendry on the edge of the box and the Northern Irishman hit a fine effort into the far top corner.

However, just two minutes later Jeff King restored the Trotters' advantage when he capitalised on a mistake from Clements and toe-poked the ball past Wright.

El Mizouni blazed an effort high and wide of the near post soon after, while at the other end Hall latched on to a powerful header forward but he couldn't quite find the far corner of the net. Trialist Lewis then lifted an effort well over the bar after a quick break from the Blues.

Midway through the second half a fierce shot from King was beaten away by Wright, shortly before McKendry's freekick was headed over by Aaron Drinan. Lankester followed suit moments later following a neat backheel from Lewis, who then curled an effort inches wide.

Town were certainly creating more chances than they had in the first half and on 74 a driving run forward from McKendry drew a foul from Lonsdale in the box. Referee Josh Smith pointed to the spot and captain McLoughlin stepped up to send James Aspinall the wrong way and level the scores.

Aspinall got down well at his near post to deny McKendry moments later before Wright and Clements combined to keep Dennis Politic's low shot out as both teams pushed forward in search of a winner.

Following a spirited second-half fightback it was the home side that found the winner in the second minute of stoppage time. A low ball into the area from El Mizouni found Drinan and although Aspinall got down to keep his goal bound effort out, Lankester was on hand to nod in the rebound.

The visitors, who went into the match top of the Professional Development League Two North table, dominated large periods of the first half but Town stayed in the game and took their chances when they came.

Lankester and Drinan impressed up front, particularly after the interval, and trialist Lewis got involved more during the second half and showed some neat touches and made some good runs forward.

The victory guarantees Town's U23s third place in the Professional Development League Two South table.

U23s: Wright, El Mizouni, Webber, McLoughlin (c), Goteni (Ndaba 56), McKendry, Blanchfield (Sagaf 46), Drinan, Lankester, Lewis, Clements. Unused: Ware, McGavin.

Bolton: Aspinall, Brockbank (Morris 46), Lonsdale, Edwards (c), Elsdon, Carter, Politic, Earing, Hall, King, White. Unused: Navarro, James, Jones, Brown.

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Photo: Larry McQuillan/Drogheda United

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Millsey added 21:19 - Apr 23
Played well in the second half

muccletonjoe added 21:26 - Apr 23
Mckendry once again the stand out player

blueboy1981 added 22:07 - Apr 23
Well done lads.

runningout added 22:09 - Apr 23
Nice one

Mark added 22:51 - Apr 23
Well done lads, a superb season for the U23s.

Drinan impressed again then. Let's find time to give him a run out in the two remaining first team games.

PortmanTerrorist added 23:11 - Apr 23
From what i saw McKendry looks like he is worth a shot in the first team now, thought that weeks ago and he must wonder what it takes to get noticed.

Drinan should have been on the bench every game at least as well.

NO MORE GAME TIME FOR LOAN PLAYERS, time to prioritise the dev of OUR players rather than trying to do right by the League and focusing on meaningless results. We would all like to win these last 2 games, but the points mean nothing now but if we can get some minutes into some youngsters that could be valuable next season..

harlingblue added 02:27 - Apr 24
A great fight back by the Town U23 team against Bolton Wanderers, the Northern Section leaders.
A goal down after about 5 minutes, Town played second fiddle for most of the 1st half, the team formation having to be hastily reshuffled with the absence of Chris Smith who was due to play. Wright in the home goal bringing off many fine saves.
The second half was one of great excitement, Sagaf and Ndaba added to the fray and gave the team a far more balanced look, the former setting up McKendry to score with a glorious shot.
An uncharacteristic mistake by young Bailey Clements was punished to give Bolton the lead (to be fair to him, after a few shaky moments, he played through the mistake and then had a solid game).
Drinan was having a fine game up front, work rate, hold up play and chest control coming on leaps and bounds, ably assisted by young Lankester, and the MoM McKendry. So good that this trio should pave our way to victory.
First a McKendry run was twarted by a tackle deemed a penalty, well tucked away by McLoughlin. Then for us Town supporters delight, a great cross by El Mizouni was met by a shot by Drinan well parried, but only into the path of Lankester to head the winner. That was a fun night, I thank you, the U23 team.

MicksZzzTactics added 03:22 - Apr 24
Well done 'Lads'!
Too bad though the squad couldn't keep up their pretty fine start to this PDL campaign (only 3 defeats between August & end of January)... and winded up losing 8 of the last 12. Would have been soooo cool with even an "auxiliary" ITFC promotion imho!
But alas they ended up a very respectable third, 4 points adrift of Charlton occupying the 2nd promotion spot behind run-away winners Crystal Palace. BTW 110 goals were scored in our 29 fixtures... and not a single 0-0 draw among them!

Seasider added 17:38 - Apr 24
Am a bit puzzled that Northern team Bolton who it says above are the Northern Section Leaders,played Ipswich Town in the Professional Development League 2 South !

Can anybody enlighten me please,or have I missed something ?

armchaircritic59 added 20:34 - Apr 24
Seasider, i had a problem with that one yesterday. Unsurprisingly, i couldn't find Bolton anywhere in the PDL2 table!

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