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Match Reports

REPORT: Stanley 3-0 Bolton Wanderers

Reds clinch Central League title after a Nolan hat-trick seals a comfortable victory over Bolton

28 March 2023

Ged Brannan and Andy Gray's Accrington Stanley Under-23s side clinched this season's Central League title, with a Jack Nolan hat-trick sealing a 3-0 victory over fifth-place Bolton Wanderers.

Following Preston North End's 2-2 draw against Wrexham last week, the Reds knew that a point would be enough to guarantee top spot and the league leaders opened the scoring early at the Stanley Sports Hub.

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With three minutes on the clock, striker Matt Lowe impressively closed down Wanderers goalkeeper Ellis Litherland and Nolan then casually curled the ball home into an empty net for his first of the afternoon.

It should have been two less than five minutes later and Nolan was again involved, but the 21-year-old's cross could only be fired into the side-netting by Lewis Trickett; as Lowe also headed wide of the target.

Matt Craddock's Trotters side, who came into the game with three wins and 10 points, grew into the game and their first real effort at goal came via Finlay Lockett, following good work by left-back Max Conway.

As the opening 45 progressed, Litherland was forced into making a save to deny Northern Ireland youth international Trickett; after Lowe had a goal ruled out moments earlier for a foul inside the penalty area.

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The visitors came out strongly after the half-time break and Lockett dragged another shot wide of Liam Isherwood's near post, with Bolton captain Nelson Khumbeni also firing wide from the edge of the box.

Nolan's second was reward for his drive and determination; the winger riding an attempted challenge from Khumbeni, before then rifling a low driven effort past the diving Litherland and into the bottom corner.

On 81 minutes, the former Reading youngster produced an almost carbon copy of his second goal to put the game beyond any doubt and complete his hat-trick; his 18th Under-23s goal contribution of the season.

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Next up for Stanley, who were presented with the trophy at full-time, is a matchday 12 trip to Preston to conclude a remarkable Central League campaign that has seen just one loss and a total of 26 goals scored.

With a home Lancashire FA Senior Cup quarter-final against Rochdale still to be dated, the Reds will be aiming to complete an impressive league and cup double; Barrow awaiting the winners in the last four.

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Accrington Stanley

Isherwood, Lowe (Harper 83'), Nolan (Devonport 83'), Quirk, Moonan (C) (Poilly 68'), Patrick, Tharme, Sloane, O'Brien, Trickett (Henderson 64') and Pickles.

Subs Not Used: Riva and Massey.

Yellow Cards: Tharme.

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