Defeat means Ian Evatt’s side are out of the EFL Trophy and will play their final game against Newcastle United’s Under-21s as a dead rubber.
But was it a wasted journey to Shropshire? We pick out five talking points from the night.
Though penalties are somewhat of a rare occurrence, Wanderers have not scored from the spot since April 2018.
Adam Le Fondre was the last person to manage it, with Josh Magennis and Daryl Murphy missing the solitary spot kick awarded in each of the previous two campaigns.
Tom White’s effort was not well struck but you have to give some credit to the Shrewsbury keeper, Harry Burgoyne, who looked to have got a fingertip to the ball to send it towards the post.
Had Wanderers got parity at that point, a very different game may have unfolded.
Once again, Bolton were their own worst enemies at the back. George Taft blotted an otherwise fine performance with a misplaced pass that led to the opening goal and young Regan Riley lost possession in a bad area for the second.
Wanderers are keeping faith with the high-risk, high-reward football from defence and, in time, you would hope such kinks will be straightened out.
They improved in that respect as the game wore on but had already given the home side a two-goal start.
NO JOKE, JOSH
Ex-Wanderer Josh Vela was always going to be wound up for this game but Ian Evatt felt he had over-stepped the line with some of his early challenges, which were not punished by a yellow card.
Vela finally went into the ref’s book just before half time when he scythed down Tom White just outside the Bolton box, leaving his fellow midfielder having to limp off the field.
Bolton fans will remember Vela at his combative best and to take that aspect of his game away would reduce his effectiveness – but even Sam Ricketts saw that the midfielder was on his last life, substituting him at the interval.
Should the referee have stamped his authority on the game sooner? He issued five yellow cards to Shrewsbury’s players, with 21 fouls on the day. Tom White and Ian Evatt would certainly argue ‘yes’.
Wanderers had chances to at least send the game into a penalty shoot-out, right up to the end when Jamie Mascoll put a shot over the bar.
Arthur Gnahoua has two big opportunities to mark his first start for the club with a goal, with Shrews keeper Burgoyne making another important block on his own line for one of them.
Wanderers put eight shots in on the home goal, seven of which were from inside the penalty box, but only two on target. They are stats that have to be improved.
A lot has been said about Wanderers’ decision to downgrade the academy and we are still to find out exactly how it will change the workforce.
But the Under-18s are up and running again, under the tutelage of academy manager Mark Litherland, and it was great to see the likes of Kian Le Fondre, Max Conway, Matt Tweedley and Regan Riley involved.
Finlay Lockett had a tough first start for the Whites but let nobody down for effort and Riley recovered superbly after an error in the build-up to the second goal, proving hugely influential in the second half.
Adam Senior and Ronan Darcy both underlined that they are good enough to warrant inclusion in the first team squad alongside Harry Brockbank – leaving Evatt with a core of homegrown players to progress in the coming months.
Without the safety net of the Under-23s it is sink or swim in men’s football for these young players. But next month’s game against Newcastle might just be the perfect opportunity to dive right in.
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