Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackpool

  • May 04, 2013 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/d8f07

Bolton came from two-goals down to draw 2-2 with Blackpool, but were edged out of the play-off places on goal difference.

With Nottingham Forest and Leicester City drawing at the City Ground, a point looked set to secure sixth-place for Dougie Freedman's side. However, a stoppage time goal from Anthony Knockaert gave the Foxes an away win, meaning they grabbed the final play-off position via their superior goal difference.

In truth, Wanderers were punished for a poor first-half display in which they found themselves two-down inside the opening 35 minutes. Blackpool enjoyed plenty of possession down each flank, regularly getting behind the Bolton back-four, and were good value for their lead - with goals scored by Matt Phillips and Ludovic Sylvestre.

Chris Eagles gave Bolton hope by placing the ball into the top corner of Matt Gilks' goal in the second minute of first-half stoppage time, before a deflected strike from Craig Davies found the net just 60 seconds later.

Wanderers were much improved in the second-half and pushed forward in their numbers but ultimately lacked that cutting edge, ending the season thinking about what could have been after a 2-2 draw.

There were three changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Cardiff City last weekend as Tim Ream, Robert Hall and Craig Davies took the places of Craig Dawson, Josh Vela and Marvin Sordell.

Blackpool started the game well and it was a sign of things to come, with a nervous attitude inside the Reebok Stadium. The visitors created their first opportunity inside 90 seconds, as Phillips got beyond Sam Ricketts down the left before shooting into the side-netting of Adam Bogdan's goal.

Phillips got behind the Bolton defence again moments later, but his cross-cum-shot was dragged across the face of goal and out for a goal-kick.

Half chances for Hall and Davies fell the way of Bolton on the quarter-hour mark, but it was Blackpool who broke the deadlock with 21 minutes played. Wanderers were struggling with Phillips and he was the man who opened the scoring, after a neat one-two with Gary Taylor-Fletcher left him with the simple task of firing the ball past Bogdan.

Davies fired a 35-yard free-kick high over the crossbar just before the half hour, before coming close to tapping home a rebound after Gilks had fumbled a shot from Hall.

Although they were creating chances, Bolton looked unlikely to score and they conceded again ten minutes before the break. Tom Ince and Neil Eardley were given too much space down the right. That allowed the latter to pull the ball back to Sylvestre, who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

That forced Freedman into a tactical switch, with Sordell taking the place of the unfortunate Hall - who was making his first appearance for the club.

The change gave Bolton another option in attack and they were given a boost in the second of three added minutes, as Marcos Alonso teed up Eagles for fire into the top corner with Wanderers' first real attempt on goal.

Then, in a stunning change of events at the Reebok, the hosts were level just 60 seconds later. With time running out, Davies hit a hopeful shot towards goal. There appeared to be little danger but the ball took a wicked deflection off a Blackpool defender and nestled in the bottom corner of Gilks' net, meaning the sides went in level at the interval.

There were no changes at the start of the second period, as play restarted with both sides taking the cautious approach. The first chance fell the way of Davies, who shot straight at Gilks on 53 minutes when Eagles was available in space to his left.

Bolton looked the more likely scorers at this stage but they were denied a lead just after the hour, as Gary MacKenzie somehow cleared the ball off the line whilst under pressure from Davies and Sordell.

Gilks turned an Alonso free-kick behind with 70 minutes gone, before a cross from Darren Pratley was almost turned into his own net by MacKenzie.

Pratley twice shot high and wide as the game entered the final 10 minutes, while Lee Chung-Yong shot into the side netting with Gilks beaten.

Nathan Eccleston and Sylvestre both came close in the latter stages, before substitute Tom Eaves struck inches wide with a drive from the edge of the box. Alonso shot over from 30 yards in the last of five added minutes, as news of Leicester's winning goal at Forest began to filter through to supporters inside the stadium.

Roger East called time on the game, and the season, as the Reebok Stadium fell into a stunned silence. The result means Bolton will remain in the Championship next season, with Leicester taking the final play-off position. They will join Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace for the right to join Cardiff and Hull City in next season's Premier League.

The majority of the home supporters stayed behind for a lap of appreciation which was led by club captain Kevin Davies, who will leave the club this summer after a ten-year spell at the club.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Ricketts, Knight, Ream (Wheater 90), Alonso, Eagles, Kamara, Pratley, Chung-Yong, Hall (Sordell 37), C Davies (Eaves 74)
Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Holden, Vela, Butterfield
Booked: Kamara, Alonso, Pratley
Goals: Eagles 45+2, C Davies 45+4

Blackpool: Gilks, Broadfoot, MacKenzie, Sylvestre, Crainey, Basham (Osbourne 66), Eardley, Ferguson, Phillips (Eccleston 80), Taylor-Fletcher (Delfouneso 66), Ince
Subs Not Used: Halstead, Cathcart, Angel, Derbyshire
Booked: MacKenzie, Basham, Eardley
Goals: Phillips 21, Sylvestre 45

Referee: Roger East
Attendance: 24,844

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
20 Southend United 0 0
21 Sunderland 0 0
22 Tranmere Rovers 0 0
23 Wycombe Wanderers 0 0
24 Bolton Wanderers 0 -12
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