United Reserves claimed a first league win under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanks to goals from Federico "Kiko" Macheda, Sam Hewson and Tom Cleverley plus a clean sheet by senior keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
Macheda making the breakthrough at the end of a poor first half was significant; thereafter, Bolton were comfortably beaten at the County Ground in Leyland, scene of United's Lancashire Senior Cup triumph over Liverpool.
David Gray, a scorer in that final and in last week’s reserve league defeat at Wigan, filled in for James Chester as centre-back and skipper. Gray’s right-back berth was occupied by Rafael while Oliver Gill, an imposing centre-half in the Under-18s, made his reserve league debut at left-back.
The game started at a frenetic pace but the first real chance didn’t arrive until the 9th minute. With Bolton threatening to score, Kuszczak came off his line to dive at the feet of Temitope Obadeyi and when the ball broke to Nathan Woolfe, Richard Eckersley blocked the shot brilliantly.
That save was Kuszczak's only real action of note. Although he had to be on his toes to pluck the occasional header and cross out of the air, he was largely a spectator on this successful return from injury, despite the apparent pace and power of Bolton’s front pair Temitope Obadeyi and Ricardo Vaz Te.
At the other end, Cameron Stewart’s early deliveries from the right flank couldn’t find Macheda, who spearheaded a fluid 4-5-1 formation for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. But Macheda had more joy with service through the middle in the 22nd minute when he traded passes with Sam Hewson before driving a left-foot shot at Bolton goalkeeper Robert Lainton from the edge of the area. Cleverley was only just beaten to the rebound by an alert Wanderers defender.
Macheda made the keeper work again on the brink of half-time after creating an opening on the left with Gill and James. But while Lainton saved this one, he couldn’t prevent Kiko giving United the lead at the end of first-half injury time, moments after Bolton had taken the game’s first corner.