Chelsea’s youngsters were beaten by the odd goal in five on a snowy Saturday morning at Cobham.
The Blues took the lead through Jesse Starkey in the first half, only to fall behind thanks to goals either side of the break from the visitors, before Ambrose Gnahore pulled Adi Viveash’s side level. The game could have gone either way in the closing stages, but a winner came for Bolton, consigning Chelsea to a third straight league defeat.
Chelsea’s George Cole twice went close with low drives early on, while sandwiched between was a glaring miss from Bolton’s centre-forward, who fired high from inside the six-yard box.
Starkey and John Swift both worked the visiting goalkeeper before a tidy Chelsea move brought a chance for left-winger Connor Hunte, who shot wide of the near post. He was forced off through injury shortly afterwards.
Ten minutes later Starkey curled Chelsea in front from the edge of the box, but Bolton were level almost instantly after being awarded a penalty.
Dion Conroy’s header was saved as the Blues pressed for another but it was all square at the break.
Chelsea improved after the restart and almost went ahead on the hour when substitute Gnahore saw his header pushed onto the crossbar by the Bolton keeper, following good work from Cole on the right flank.
It proved a bitter blow then when five minutes later Bolton went in front with a well-struck low drive from the edge of the box.
In searching for an equaliser Swift was left frustrated when his header was hacked off the line, but it would not be long before Gnahore did level with a well-placed finish from inside the box.
Starkey then had a free-kick well saved and Conroy looped a header over while Bolton almost nicked it with a deft flick that went just past Ben Killip’s right-hand post.
Isak Ssewankambo was then on hand to perform a last-ditch tackle after Conroy had been dispossessed inside the centre-circle.
Both sides could sense victory and a fifth and deciding goal looked probable. Unfortunately for Chelsea it did come, but for Bolton, who broke quickly with five minutes remaining and finished well from the left channel.
The remaining few minutes brought no opportunities for a leveller, meaning a rare run of consecutive league defeats.
Chelsea: Ben Killip; Jonathan Muleba (sub Nortei Nortey 70), Isak Ssewankambo, Dion Conroy, Kevin Wright; John Swift (c), Jesse Starkey, George Cole; Fankaty Dabo, Chike Kande, Connor Hunte (sub Ambrose Gnahore 25).
Unused subs: Tom Howard, Sam Bangura, Ismail Seremba.