2013: Wanderers were coming to terms with missing out on the play-offs, and there was a widespread feeling among the supporters that they only had themselves to blame.
Victory against Blackpool on the final day would have guaranteed a spot in the play-offs as the Championship’s in-form side. The team who would have missed out, Leicester City, who actually lost to Watford in the semi-finals but went on to lift the Premier League title just three years later.
Dougie Freedman’s decision to play the untested Rob Hall on the left side of his attack had backfired – and though the Whites recovered a two-goal deficit before the break, they struggled to find enough to beat Paul Ince’s men, whose fans revelled in the fact their old foes had fallen at the final hurdle.
The post-match ‘parade’ turned into a solemn affair, though most Bolton supporters stayed behind to acknowledge the departure of club legend Kevin Davies – who had not played for several weeks after being told by the club he would not be getting a new contract.
Freedman had taken flak for the way that situation was handled, too, and though he had turned results around in the second half of the season to make a push for the play-offs the Scot would struggle to gain back the confidence of fans after the Blackpool result.
“Walking round that pitch at the end was one of the hardest things I have done,” he said after the game. “The support was fantastic so I didn’t mind clapping, but for no achievement at the end, it’s not something I like to do.
“I understand you have got to show your appreciation, but it was hard to do because I want to be achieving things.”
Freedman caused a stir with his team selection on the day, bringing in Hall for his debut and adding Tim Ream and Craig Davies to the line-up that had drawn at Cardiff City.
The manager stood by his selection plan but hinted at a frustration that the players on the pitch did not adapt in the way he would have liked.
“They controlled midfield and of late, especially at home, if we can get two in there and our front four on the ball a bit quicker then maybe we could hurt them,” he said. “But it backfired on us. Some people can’t act on information so you have got to change it and maybe make it more simple.”
1935: Coincidentally, a goal from Ray Westwood sealed a 1-1 draw against Blackpool to gain promotion to the old First Division. It was his 30th goal of the season and the club’s 96th – which until 1997 was a record.
1997: Jamie Pollock would score Bolton’s 100th goal of the season in their final game at Tranmere but a late equaliser from Kenny Irons would deny them the magical 100 points.
John McGinlay had earlier netted his 30th goal of a prolific campaign but Colin Todd’s side would just miss out on putting an exclamation mark on a campaign which had already been a fitting tribute to Burnden Park.
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