U23: BOLTON WANDERERS 1-1 WATFORD
Under 23 Professional Development League: North Division
Thursday 5th April, The County Ground (Lancashire FA HQ), PR25 2LF
Goalscorer: Hall (83)
Bolton Wanderers extended their lead to two points at the top of the Professional Development League after drawing with Watford.
After a goalless first half, Dennon Lewis gave the visitors the lead from the penalty spot on 49 minutes.
Bolton equalised on 83 minutes, Connor Hall finishing from inside the area for his 20th goal of the season.
Despite both sides pressing for a winner, it could not be found, with the points shared.
It means that David Lee’s side are two points clear of 2nd placed Sheffield Wednesday with a game in hand and four left to play.
The first opportunity of the game came to the visitors on eight minutes – a free kick whipped in by Dion Pereira was only cleared as far as David Sesay, whose ball in from the right was met by the head of Joy Mukena in the box, his effort going narrowly wide of the target.
Their next chance came on 13 minutes, Pereira beating his man well on the left before his sharp low cross was cleared away.
On the counter Bolton almost opened the scoring, Hall being set away down the middle, but his effort from inside the area was put behind for a corner which came to nothing.
Bolton continued to grow into the game after that chance, Dennis Politic later trying one from range on 19 minutes which went wide of the post.
Jordan Allen was able to work an opening on 28 minutes following good work from Politic, but his angled shot went wide of the left post.
Bolton had another opportunity on 31 minutes, Jeff King doing well to anticipate the landing of a long ball, before driving forward and cutting inside, his subsequent effort narrowly clearing the bar.
Dennon Lewis did well to work some space for Watford on 36 minutes, his powerful effort fizzing wide.
Bolton again threatened on 39 minutes, the ball being squared across to Allen whose shot from a narrowing angle from six yards going past the keeper’s dive but wide of the post.
The second half started in the worst possible way for Bolton, Watford being awarded a penalty on 49 minutes which was dispatched down the middle by Lewis.
Bolton began to push forward more in search of an equaliser but almost conceded a second on 62 minutes, Pereira’s low shot from inside the box well saved by the legs of Jake Turner.
The Wanderers ‘keeper was called into action again three minutes later to divert Sesay’s low cross across the box away from danger.
Down the other end, King’s deflected cross looped over ‘keeper Sam Howes before hitting the crossbar on 71 minutes.
Bolton’s best chance of the game to this point came on 73 minutes, a free kick finding Liam Edwards at the back post whose well-directed close range header forced an excellent save by Howes to tip it over.
Watford won a free kick on 78 minutes, Pereira’s well struck effort from around 25 yards curling over the bar.
Bolton continued to press forward in search of an equaliser, however, and their persistence paid off on 83 minutes, Hall in the right position inside the box to control and tap home a low cross from Cole Lonsdale.
Despite pressure from both sides in the attacking third, there were no more real clear cut chances, the 1-1 draw extending David Lee’s side’s lead at the top of the table to two points.
Bolton Wanderers: Turner, Johnson (Moore 58), Lonsdale, Edwards, Brockbank, Morris, Politic, Earing, Hall, Allen, King (White 61)
Subs not used: Aspinall, Jones-Griffiths, Navarro
Watford: Howes, Leighton (Rogers 80), Gordon, Stray, Ryan, Mukena, D Sesay, Stewart, Cassidy (Kaikay), Lewis, Pereira
Subs not used: Gartside, Mullings, S Sesay
Referee: Mr Egil Arnar Sigurthorsson