Bolton Wanderers v Reading: Memorable Match

Chris Brunskill

Chris takes a trip down memory lane and looks at a classic Wanderers v Reading fixture from the archives.

I have been thinking about memorable games between Bolton Wanderers and Reading for a couple of days, and whilst an extremely honourable mention goes to John McGinlay's efforts in goal once keeper Keith Branagan was sent off in a fixture at Burnden Park in 1996 which led to a 2-1 win for the Whites, there was really only one game to focus on: the 1995 Division One Play Off Final at Wembley.

Promotion to the Premier League was always a target for Bruce Rioch and his side, who overcame rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-2 on aggregate after a hard fought pair of semi-finals. That year, the division was to become smaller and therefore only two sides would be promoted, with four relegated from the Premier League to Division One (now The Championship). Bolton and Reading would meet at Wembley to decide who would join Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough side in the top division.

The game would go on to be one of the most fondly remembered games in the modern era, as well as my personal all-time favourite Bolton Wanderers game. I was 12, and it would be my first visit to Wembley having been unable to get a ticket for the Liverpool cup final which Bolton lost earlier in that same season.

It would be a game that would go down in history. Reading went 1-0 up after four minutes, with striker Lee Nogan scoring. Then, disastrously, Adrian Williams made it 2-0 just eight minutes later. The Bolton Wanderers fans were sat in stunned silence. Disaster struck again in the 34th minute, when goalkeeper Keith Branagan brought Nogan down inside the box, and conceded a penalty. However, the Whites' luck began to turn as Stuart Lovell saw his penalty saved, and this proved to be the catalyst for a magical revival. I've never ever forgotten the family sat in front us, who decided at half-time that they couldn't watch any more of this and went home.

What a mistake.

Owen Coyle would score a terrific header in the 75th minute, with the all-important equaliser coming from then-record signing Fabien de Freitas in the 86th minute to make it 2-2. Finnish striker Mixu Paatelainen then scored in the 105th minute to make it 3-2 to Wanderers, with de Freitas scoring again with just two minutes of extra time remaining. Reading player-manager Quinn scored a late goal to make it 4-3 but it wasn't enough, and Bolton Wanderers had secured an unlikely victory and with it a move up to the Premier League.

After the game, manager Bruce Rioch would leave to join Arsenal, and the squad would begin to break up, with Bolton Wanderers ultimately relegated back to the First Division the following season - but the memories of 29th May 1995 have never been forgotten. It truly was one of the greatest games that Wembley had ever seen, and by a long way my favourite Bolton Wanderers match.

29 May 1995

Bolton

4 - 3 (a.e.t.)

Reading

Coyle 75'
de Freitas 86', 118'
Paatelainen 105'

Nogan 4'
Williams 12'
Quinn 119'

Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 64,107
Referee: P Foakes (Clacton-on-Sea).

Bolton Wanderers:

GK

1

Keith Branagan

DF

2

Scott Green

DF

3

Jimmy Phillips

DF

5

Guðni Bergsson

DF

6

Alan Stubbs

MF

7

Neil McDonald

46'

MF

4

Jason McAteer

MF

10

Mixu Paatelainen

MF

11

Alan Thompson

FW

8

Owen Coyle

FW

9

John McGinlay

Substitutes:

GK

12

Peter Shilton

DF

14

John Dreyer

FW

15

Fabian de Freitas

46'

Manager:

Bruce Rioch

Reading:

GK

1

Shaka Hislop

RWB

2

Andy Bernal

67'

DF

4

Keith McPherson

DF

6

Dariusz Wdowczyk

DF

5

Adrian Williams

LWB

3

Simon Osborn

MF

8

Mick Gooding

MF

7

Michael Gilkes

MF

11

Scott Taylor

FW

9

Lee Nogan

62'

FW

10

Stuart Lovell

Substitutes:

GK

15

Simon Sheppard

DF

14

Jeff Hopkins

67'

FW

12

Jimmy Quinn

62'

Manager:

Jimmy Quinn & Mick Gooding

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