WANDERERS’ adventures in the Papa John’s Trophy continue… but only just!

Kieran Lee’s goal proved the winner for Ian Evatt’s side on what looked for a long while like being a comfortable night against an inexperienced and managerless Fleetwood side seemingly with other things on their mind.

But despite dominating for a good hour, Bolton could not find a second goal to kill off the visitors’ youthful exuberance and as a result, they were left holding on at the end.

Evatt had pledged pre-match to make sweeping changes to his own side, potentially drafting in some of his untested Under-18s as a means to rest first team stars for as long as possible. But that promise proved to be a red herring – and though he did change two of the players who fought out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Cheltenham, Dapo Afolayan and Alex Baptiste were hardly inadequate replacements for Ricardo Santos and Elias Kachunga.

By comparison, Fleetwood made 11 changes to the team which had drawn at AFC Wimbledon, giving out three debuts.

For 45 minutes the game meandered away at half pace. Wanderers certainly played the better football and were deservedly ahead at half time, but they got nowhere near the sort of cohesion they had shown at the weekend.

Declan John looked to have the bit between his teeth early on, attacking the space he was offered out wide and striking a couple of decent efforts at the Fleetwood goal, the second of which was saved by a man the Bolton fans know only too well.

Billy Crellin’s time at the UniBol was nothing if not eventful. The one-time Everton target arrived in Evatt’s first summer as his number one goalkeeper but just a couple of months into the League Two season had made several high-profile errors, some of which were highlighted in a very public manner by his manager.

The stage was set here for the Blackpool-born keeper, still only 21, to grab some headlines, one way or another.

Dapo Afolayan was back in the side after suspension and though he was starved shooting opportunities, he picked out team-mates with a couple of arrow-like passes to suggest he hadn’t missed a beat.

One such ball put Eoin Doyle in on goal 34 minutes in, and after the striker had brought the ball under his spell, he laid off to Kieran Lee to stroke home the game’s opening goal.

Wanderers had to keep their concentration. George Johnston, playing left side of a defensive three, made one excellent clearance in front of his own goal.

Joel Dixon did not have to make a save but the plucky young Fleetwood side had plenty more possession in the last 10 minutes of the half, forcing a succession of corners. Yes, it was comfortable, but Bolton could not put their feet up and rest just yet.

Straight from kick-off Wanderers nearly doubled their lead. Gordon and Lee exchanged passes on the right, eventually feeding Doyle, whose fiercely struck shot was pushed round the post well by Crellin.

Set pieces have produced very little for the Whites this season but, just for a change, the short corner produced a good ball into the box moments later, headed inches wide by Alex Baptiste.

Wanderers continued to do enough to control the game without really seeming to stretch themselves. Afolayan had the odd burst, driving one shot narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty box but while the Highbury men remained just a goal behind, there was always a nagging feeling that they might just make Bolton change up a gear, or worse still, go to penalties.

Evatt made a triple substitution with 20 minutes left, bringing on Nathan Delfouneso, Elias Kachunga alongside Arran Pettifer for his debut.

Amaechi stayed on the pitch – perhaps a surprising fact, given his recent return from injury – and arrowed a shot just wide of Crellin’s right-hand post after some good work in the build up.

As the minutes ticked down, that one-goal lead started to look dangerously slender.

Sub Chris Conn-Clarke had a shot deflected just over the top, and from the corner, Cian Hayes beat Johnston far too easily on the edge of the box, hammering a shot which was saved well by Dixon.

Evatt sent on another two of his youth teamers in Mitchell Henry and Matthew Tweedley – making his Bolton debut.

Henry was forced into immediate defensive action as Ryan Edmondson surged past Baptiste, the youngster doing well not to dive in and concede a penalty. Thankfully, the Fleetwood man failed to pick out a team-mate with his cut back from the edge of the six yard box.

The visitors were not going to go quietly. And with the kids now tasked with seeing this result through, it was a nervy last five minutes for the smattering of supporters who had ventured out for a midweek cup match.

Conn-Clarke blasted over the top from close range, Hayes also had a goalbound shot blocked well by Johnston. Wanderers were hanging on and could have done without the fourth official totting up seven minutes of added time.

As it happened, the young substitutes gathered their composure in the final few minutes, keeping hold of possession and Fleetwood at bay when it mattered the most.