Last gasp Bolton winner sends Liverpool Reserves to defeat in seven-goal thriller (From Warrington Guardian)
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Last gasp Bolton Wanderers winner sends Liverpool Football Club Reserves to defeat in seven-goal thriller
A LAST gasp Bolton winner sent Liverpool Reserves crashing to defeat in a seven-goal thriller at The Halliwell Jones Stadium this evening.
The Reds took the lead three times against Bolton Wanderers Reserves with inspirational midfielder Jay Spearing notching his first hat trick for Gary Ablett’s side.
But the visitors responded three times and eventually ran out 4-3 winners thanks to their own hat trick hero Ariza Makukula.
Only 320 fans turned out for the Barclays Premier Reserve League North clash but those in attendance enjoyed a pulsating encounter.
The game was just four minutes old when Spearing once again laid claim to a bigger role in Rafael Benitez’s first team plans.
The 20-year-old burst clear of the Bolton backline and latching onto a long ball slotted coolly past Omani international Ali Al Habsi.
Liverpool could have doubled their lead seven minutes later when Gerardo Bruna hit the stanchion with a stunning shot from just outside the box.
However, Bolton's powerful forward Makukula was next to strike.
Collecting a loose pass from the usually dependable Stephen Darby, he charged towards goal before producing a deft finish past Martin Hansen.
The 27-year-old Portuguese hitman was just one of several international stars fielded by the Lancashire outfit, including fellow loan-star Ebi Smolarek of Poland and Israeli midfielder Tamir Cohen - the son of former Liverpool player Avi Cohen.
Liverpool pushed to restore their lead and they were rewarded for their attacking play in the 25th minute.
Spearing exchanged passes with Victor Palsson and while Daniel Pacheco and Krisztian Nemeth both tumbled to the ground the Wirral-born star kept his feet and dispatched another fine effort past Al Habsi.
The gifted youngster then turned provider, handing Nemeth a marvelous opportunity which the Hungarian marksman somehow contrived to squander.
It proved to be a costly error as moments later Bolton restored parity - Cohen rising to convert a corner that was poorly defended by Ablett’s men.
Fortunately for Liverpool there was little time to reflect on the mistake as the referee pointed to the spot when Nemeth had his feet taken away from under him just as he looked certain to pull the trigger from six yards out.
Up stepped Spearing and the man of the match drove the penalty low into the corner of Al Habsi’s goal, capping a scintillating performance in the process.
The second half began with Bolton upping the pressure and it took another magnificent effort from Spearing to keep the Wanderers at bay.
A blunder from Martin Hansen had left Smolarek with an open goal at his mercy but the midfield dynamo raced back at breakneck speed, sliding at full stretch to divert the striker’s shot to safety.
If that moment typified Spearing’s performance what followed similarly emphasised the familiar defensive frailties that have plagued the Red’s campaign this term.
An unmarked Makukula attempted an audacious bicycle kick from close range that crashed against Hansen’s crossbar and when it was driven back into the box the 6ft 3ins target man somehow bundled the ball over the line.
As the frantic pace of the game finally started to settle Tamir Cohen treated fans to an effort reminiscent of another famous Israel-born Liverpudlian, Ronny Rosenthal, with a hopeless shot that sailed over the bar, over the Martin Dawes East Stand and out of the ground towards Winwick Road.
But there was more drama yet to come as Makukula capitalised on another Liverpool defensive mix-up with just two minutes of normal time remaining, the powerhouse forcing home the winner that consigned Liverpool to a deeply frustrating defeat that leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table.
Liverpool Reserves: Martin Hansen, Emmanuel Gomis Mendy, Stephen Darby, Mikel San Jose Dominguez, Godwin Antwi, Victor Palsson, Jay Spearing, Daniel Pacheco, Krisztian Nemeth (Ryan Crowther 68), Andras Simon (Vitor Flora 82), Gerardo Bruna (Gary Mackay-Steven 72). Unused subs: Dean Bouzanis, Robbie Threlfall.
Bolton Wanderers Reserves: Ali Al Habsi, Nicky Hunt, Chris Stokes, Sebastien Puygrenier, Tom Eckersley, Michael O'Halloran (Sam Sheridan 45), Riga, Tamir Cohen, Ariza Makukula, Ebi Smolarek, Nathan Woolfe (Aaron Mooy 56). Unused subs: Rob Lainton, Rhys Bennett, Danny Ward.
Warrington Guardian man of the match: Jay Spearing - The midfielder is as motivated for a reserve clash against Bolton as he is a Champions League tie against Real Madrid.