Stoke City 2-2 Bolton: Walters double sends Coyle's men down in heartbreaking fashion
The Trotters go down to the second-tier of English football thanks to the resurgent efforts of the Potters and QPR's draw against Manchester City
By Sam Bisby at the Britannia Stadium
The Trotters needed a win to give themselves hope of surviving, but their chances were also heavily dependent on the game at Eastlands, where QPR lost 3-2 against Manchester City.
Stoke were playing for little more than pride, despite having the narrowest of chances for a top-10 finish.
The Potters went ahead thanks to a mistake by Adam Bogdan, with Jonathan Walters taking the initiative and nodded in the loose ball.
Bolton soon fought back and got two goals in succession, one as bizarre as the last. Mark Davies had the ball ricochet off of him from a clearance and past Thomas Sorenson, before Kevin Davies’s cross-come-shot surprised the Dane at his near-post.
All hope faded, however, as Stoke were awarded a penalty following Bogdan’s foul on Peter Crouch, Walters taking it and getting the Potters’ and his second of the day.
Both Marc Wilson and Cameron Jerome came in for Andy Wilkinson and Dean Whitehead in a fairly conservative line-up for the Potters.
Owen Coyle also made two changes to his side, as David Ngog was replaced by Ivan Klasnic and Zat Knight came in for the injured David Wheater. It was an attacking formation with Chris Eagles and Martin Petrov flanking both Kevin Davies and his Croatian strike partner.
Stoke started the game the livelier team and tested Bogdan in the first few minutes with Ricardo Fuller’s effort just inside the Bolton area forcing the Trotters ‘keeper to push the ball out for a corner.
Tony Pulis’ outfit continued to press for an early opener and their hard work paid dividends and went a goal up after an almost comedic error from the visitor’s keeper who failed to hang onto a high ball into the box, with Walters taking full advantage and nodding the ball into the corner.
The game continued to go Stoke’s way, with Crouch and Walters almost doubling the hosts’ lead with close chances.
Bolton did begin to wake up slightly, however, with Kevin Davies having a well-timed header ricochet off the bar of Sorenson and the Dane was in action just moments later, pushing out a long-range effort for a corner.
However, the Lancashire faithful didn’t have to wait much longer to see their team get an equaliser - and in bizarre fashion as well. Robert Huth looked to be free enough to clear a tense Bolton attack inside the Stoke box, but the German’s strike instead ricocheted off of Mark Davies’ groin and whipped back past a startled Sorenson.
As the break loomed, Bolton seemed spurred on by their goal and launched upon another attack, this time down the right-side with Kevin Davies on the ball, with the striker looking for a man in the middle to get it to, but the veteran’s subsequent cross soon turned into a shot and caught out Sorenson at his near-post.
After the break, news soon got through to the Britannia stands of QPR’s equaliser, to which the Stoke support immediately reacted to with shouts of ‘You’re not singing any more’. It was evident that the nerves were still with the Bolton contingent as their fans indeed began to get quiet, as well as their players.
Stoke took up their pressing style once more as the second-half progressed and Bolton looked almost dead on their feet and like their fans, seemed very distilled in their efforts to keep hold of their lead.
The visitors were then once more the makers of their own misery, as Bogdan brought down Crouch near the goal line and the hosts were awarded a deserved penalty. Walters stepped up from 12 yards out and got his second of the day to put what was to be the final nail in Bolton’s coffin.
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