Bolton Wanderers and Leeds United had vastly different experiences of the 2003/04 season in the Barclays Premiership. The clubs met in May, at the end of the season, with each side challenging at either end of the table.
Bolton would go on to finish an impressive 8th in the league, though disappointment was solely in Leeds' possession as the Wanderers lost the Carling Cup Final following a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in Cardiff. That season, Wanderers had such names in their squad as Youri Djorkaeff, Jay Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and Nicky Hunt - ably led by legendary manager Sam Allardyce, whilst Leeds United possessed a squad under the control of ex-Wanderer Peter Reid, who by the time this fixture came around had been replaced by red-faced Scotsman Eddie Gray.
Leeds were in the grip of a severe financial crisis, which had seen the club's debt rise to £100m, and which prompted a fire-sale of the club's players to ease the burden on the accounts. Peter Reid was sacked in November and a cheaper option in coach Eddie Gray was found. Results failed to improve under Gray and Leeds would eventually go on to suffer relegation at the end of the season. Gray would then himself leave and be replaced by an even cheaper option in Kevin Blackwell. Despite their woes, Leeds entered the game with a squad containing established Premiership names such as Lucas Radebe, Mark Viduka and Alan Smith.
The game took place at a sunny Reebok Stadium, with Leeds United needing to win each of their remaining three games to stave off the threat of relegation. They began the game well, with Australian striker Mark Viduka scoring a 27th minute penalty to give the away fans hope that the impossible could indeed happen. However, Viduka turned from hero to villain soon after, receiving his second booking following a clash with Bruno N'Gotty.
Wanderers soon took advantage of the extra man, with Youri Djorkaeff's equaliser coming in the 47th minute, providing half-time heartbreak for Leeds. The same man would go on to score again in the 53rd minute, before an Ian Harte own goal in the 55th. Kevin Nolan completed the scoring in the 78th minute and Leeds were effectively relegated - even if they had won their remaining two games, Manchester City had a vastly superior goal difference and Yorkshire was left without a top flight team for the first time in nearly 20 years.
As the full-time whistle blew, the Leeds fans broke into song as their players broke into tears - most notably Alan Smith, whose crocodile tears on the day look ever more cynical with the passing of time. Famously before the game, captain Lucas Radebe had been interviewed and divided the camp into four sections: local boys with unquestionable loyalty, committed newcomers, those who had given up hope, and those who had already one eye on their next move. It would be a season with far-reaching repercussions for the club.
Bolton: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Nicky Hunt, Emerson Thome (Anthony Barness 38), Bruno N'Gotty, Simon Charlton, Kevin Nolan, Ivan Campo, Jay Jay Okocha, Henrik Pedersen (Javi Moreno 69), Youri Djorkaeff, Kevin Davies (Stelios Giannakopoulos 84).
Subs Not Used: Kevin Poole, Per Frandsen.
Booked: Thome, Hunt, Davies.
Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Duberry, Caldwell, Harte, Pennant, McPhail, Matteo, Milner (Wilcox 60), Viduka, Smith.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Barmby, Lennon, Kilgallon.
Sent Off: Viduka (33).
Booked: Viduka, Pennant.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Kent).