Reebok Memories: Bolton's UEFA Cup Debut

  • May 15, 2014 | By Chris Mann
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As Bolton prepare to move on from 'The Reebok', we take a look back at Wanderers' UEFA Cup debut against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

On September 15, 2005, Bolton played in a major European competition for the very first time in their history, after finishing 6th in the Premier League the previous season.

With names such as Bruno N'Gotty, Ivan Campo, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Jay-Jay Okocha, Hidetoshi Nakata and El-Hadj Diouf all starting for Sam Allardyce's side, there was a lot of confidence surrounding their first foray into the competition - with all of those aforementioned players having represented other clubs at even higher levels previously.

Although they were overwhelming favourites against unfancied Bulgarian opposition, Wanderers fell behind in the 28th minute when Vladimir Ivanov's cross from the right was turned home by Boban Jancevski.

All that came after a bright start from the hosts, who had come close to opening from two separate headers by N'Gotty - the second of which was cleared off the line.

Falling behind seemed to rock Bolton's momentum and although they were enjoying the lion's share of the possession, they failed to break down a stubborn Plovdiv backline as they went in behind at the break.

The second period began slowly, but that all changed with the 57th minute introduction of Jared Borgetti. The Mexico international replaced Henrik Pedersen and went up front, in support of El-Hadji Diouf.

Plovdiv were clearly trying to hold on to their lead and resorted to time-wasting and feigning injury in order to slow the game down. With 18 minutes to go, Wanderers captain Kevin Nolan had seen enough. He took control, collected the ball from Ricardo Gardner and played it out wide to Nicky Hunt. The full-back advanced into the Plovdiv half, played a diagonal long-ball into the penalty area and Diouf was there to send a superb diving header beyond Stoyan Kolev.

Bolton deserved their equaliser and looked set to be heading for a draw, but they completed the turnaround in stoppage time as Nakata flicked a Fabrice Fernandes cross into the path of Borgetti. His first touch appeared to let him down, but he dragged the ball back under his control and scuffed a shot into the far corner to seal victory in Wanderers' first European fixture.

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Jaidi, N'Gotty, Gardner, Campo, Diouf, Giannakopoulos (Fernandes 67), Okocha (Nolan 67), Nakata, Pedersen (Borgetti 57)
Subs Not Used: Walker, Faye, O'Brien, Davies
Booked: Gardner, Nakata
Goals: Diouf 72, Borgetti 90

Lokomotiv Plovdiv: Kolev, Ivanov, Tunchev, Dimitrov, Kotev, Petrov, Iliev (Vandev 81), Halimi (Georgiev 46), Krizmanic, Djordani, Jancevski (Stoynev 89)
Subs Not Used: Zlatinski, Hristev, Kamburov, Mihailov
Booked: Iliev, Djordani, Jancevski
Goals: Jancevski 28

Referee: Darko Ceferin
Attendance: 19,723

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