The first chance of the game was on 13 minutes when Rovers full back Darragh Lenihan cleverly cut inside and unleashed a fierce drive down the throat of Whites shot-stopper Jay Lynch. He responded well by cleverly parrying the ball to safety.
After defending valiantly, the Wanderers hit Blackburn on the counter attack a minute later. FC Baník Ostrava loanee Jan Gregus picked up the ball in the Bolton half and showed great skill and composure carrying it into a dangerous position inside the Blackburn half. He set up full-back Andy Kellett on the overlap, who played a delightful ball into Zach Clough. The forward showed great composure and maturity to stroke the ball home past the Blackburn goalkeeper, David Raya, from the edge of the area.
This set the tone for the game with the Wanderers getting a real foothold in the match. Jan Gregus started to dictate play in central midfield, demonstrating both his defensive and attacking abilities. Conor Wilkinson showed us why Dougie Freedman had prized him away from the Den and Millwall by putting in an overall solid performance, getting involved early and often. In the 39th minute he forced a smart stop from the Blackburn goalkeeper. the score was only 1-0 but Bolton were on top, having dominated the majority of the first half.
Jamie Fullerton didn't make any changes at half time but must have had an inspirational team talk. The Whites flew out of the traps and got their second of the game just five minutes after the restart. Good work again from Gregus set up Chris Lester on the right wing. After taking on a couple of men he fizzed the ball into the 6 yard box which Connor Wilkinson got on the end of, bundling the ball home.
Now the Wanderers were in control, unlike their senior counterparts the u21's showed that they could attack and defend valiantly. Without the ball they looked like a well regimented team with Jay Lynch and Cian Bolger having very solid games. The ex-Leicester City centre back was a dominant force at the back. He read the game brilliantly and was very comfortable on the ball.
Salford-born shot stopper Lynch looked very good. He was confident coming out and dealing with Raheem Hanley's corner and produced a number of impressive stops. On the 36th minute he parried away Dean Rittenberg's fiercely hit drive. He's already been named on the bench a number of times this season and last in the absences of Adam Bogdan and Andy Lonergan but expect to see more of him.
On 64 minutes, Zach Clough got his second of the game (Bolton's third) and really put the match to bed. He picked up the ball on the edge of the box and slotted it into Raya's bottom corner, game, set, and match. This goal capped off what was a very impressive performance from the U21 side. In this squad are various exciting individuals who have the ability and I would love to see break into the first team this year. Chris Lester had a very good game on the wing showing great ability on the ball, he's demonstrated his ability to take on a man and, more importantly, pick out that killer pass. Tom Youngs showed the same credentials but on the other side. Those two are definitely ones to keep taps on over the next few seasons.
My man of the match would go to Jan Gregus, he was composed on the ball and is more than capable of taking on a man and picking out passes. With the senior squad in disarray is it time to give youth a go? They're all hungry for a chance and success. With that, I don't see why not! There's talent in this development squad which can have a serious impact on the squad over the next few years.
This win sets the U21s up nicely for their trip to the North East in a week's time. They'll face Newcastle United at the North Flames Ground in Northumberland. After achieving their first win of the season today Jamie Fullerton's squad will look to push on and will be hoping for them to recreate their fine form again a week today and maybe rub some of it off on the first team.