The Young Blues came into the game already assured of finishing in top spot in Northern Group F and are now in the hat for the round of 32 draw.
Goals from Ali Crawford and a Chris O’Grady brace either side of Yoan Zouma’s own goal handed the hosts the three points at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Paul Harsley’s men started the game well, passing the ball around confidently in the opening few minutes.
However, we found ourselves behind in the fourth minute as James Weir pounced on a defensive error, driving the ball into the box for Ali Crawford to fire into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
We looked for an immediate response and it almost came in the ninth minute after some fine play on the right-wing from Cole Palmer. He slipped in Alpha Diounkou and his inviting delivery was deflected just wide by the Bolton defender.
It was a brilliant response from the Young Blues and we deservedly levelled in the 13th minute. Midfielder Fisayo Dele-Bashiru burst into the box and his powerful cross was turned into his own net by Yoan Zouma.
Just before the half hour mark, the hosts had a big chance to re-establish their lead. The lively Crawford played a delightful pass through to Daryl Murphy, who only had Daniel Grimshaw to beat, but he stroked the ball wide of the left post.
Both sides were not content with sitting back and we should have taken the lead ten minutes before the break through Rowan McDonald. Fiorini’s curling corner was not dealt with by the hosts and the ball fell to the unmarked McDonald, who steered his effort wide from five yards out.
And, as was the pattern of the game, the next opportunity fell to the hosts. Murphy held the ball up well inside the box and laid the ball off for Crawford, but his shot sailed just over Grimshaw’s bar.
The Blues emerged from the interval on the front foot and immediately signalled our attacking intent, with Ogunby drilling the ball across the six-yard box, but unfortunately, there was nobody in sky blue to convert.
The hosts worked themselves back into the contest and would have gone back in front but for some heroic defending from Finley Burns. Crawford set up Josh Emmanuel, whose strike beat Grimshaw, but Burns was brilliantly positioned on the line to block the effort.
With just under 25 minutes remaining, the hosts did manage to find the net for the second time. Chris O’Grady was on hand to volley the ball beyond Grimshaw after a neat layoff by Jason Lowe.
It was almost another immediate equaliser from us, but Touaizi’s flicked effort in the 74th minute at the near post could only find the side netting. The Young Blues were attacking with intensity and had another glorious chance to level the scores, but Palmer placed his shot wide from eight yards.
O'Grady netted his second when the ball fell to him invitingly inside the box. We had a few half chances but the hosts defended well and hung on to claim all three points.
What it means
Our Under-21 side will still finish at the top of Group F with six points despite the defeat and are now in the hat for the round of 32 draw.
How we lined up
Daniel Grimshaw started in goal, shielded by a back four of Finley Burns, skipper Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Tyreke Wilson and Alpha Diounkou. Rowan McDonald, Lewis Fiorini and Fisayo Dele-Bashiru operated in midfield, with Cole Palmer and Henri Ogunby providing the width for frontman Nabil Touaizi.
Our EDS side are back in Premier League 2 action on Friday 1 November, hosting Leicester City at the City Football Academy. Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00GMT.