The eve of the (regular) season's final match is here and, barring a freak set of results, it's in Bolton Wanderers' hands. A win and the Trotters are almost certainly in but a draw, in conjunction with a draw in the Nottingham Forest - Leicester City match, could be enough. Three points would certainly make things much less tense but in order to do that, Wanderers will have to overcome a recent history of poor final day results.
In the final matches of the last six seasons, Bolton Wanderers have been unable to finish strong on all but one occasion. The matches have come against opposition of varying quality with the Trotters having a variety of things to play for, including: top-ten finishes, avoiding the drop, and fighting for a spot in Europe. The one thing that each of the last six seasons' final days have in common is that they were all part of the post-Sam Allardyce era for Bolton.
2006/07: Big Sam had announced his resignation with three games to go in the season and Sammy Lee was left in charge. The season's final day saw Bolton fighting for a top-seven finish and a place in Europe. Wanderers welcomed Aston Villa to the Reebok and would take the lead twice, through Gary Speed and Kevin Davies, respectively, but were pegged back by Craig Gardner and Luke Moore. The match would end 2-2 and Bolton would qualify for the UEFA cup by just one point over Reading.
2007/08: Gary Megson was in charge and Bolton Wanderers were in dire straights. An eight-match winless streak (with five losses on the bounce) saw Bolton firmly in the thick of a relegation dogfight but a strong finish would keep the Trotters afloat. Bolton faced Chelsea on the final day with the Blues and Manchester United level on points fighting for the Championship. United had the much better goal difference (a staggering +58 when all was said and done) so a win would do for them. Bolton Wanderers would draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Matty Taylor goal at the death following Andriy Shevchenko's opener 25 minutes earlier. The Trotters were safe by one point.
2008/09: Bolton Wanderers had confirmed their safety relatively on in this season and would ultimately beat the drop by seven points, finishing in 14th place. On the final day, they faced Manchester City who were just beginning their high-spending era, having brought in the likes of Robinho and Jo. An eighth minute goal from Felipe Caicedo was the difference in this one as it ended 1-0.
2009/10: Halfway through the season, Owen Coyle took over the Trotters and, having spent much of the year fighting a relegation battle, led them to safety. Bolton Wanderers had confirmed their Premier League status a few matches earlier against Stoke City and thus, did not have too much to play for on the final day against Birmingham City. Brum were firmly mid-table and had nothing to play for. This was the one time Bolton won on the final day, beating the Blues 2-1 at home with goals from Kevin Davies and Ivan Klasnic.
2010/2011: Wanderers were flying high for the vast majority of the season under the stewardship of Owen Coyle and with Stu Holden making a name for himself in the midfield. Two months ahead of the final day, Holden was hurt at Old Trafford and Bolton's slide begun, taking them from European contention to a demoralizing 14th-place finish in just a few weeks. The Trotters would face Manchester City once again, this time losing 0-2 at the Reebok thanks to Joleon Lescott and Edin Dzeko goals.
2011/2012: Bolton Wanderers fought the relegation battle until the very last in this one as it was between them and Queens Park Rangers for who would be the final team relegated to the Championship. The Trotters travelled to the Britannia to take on Stoke City in a match Bolton fans won't soon forget. Stoke City would take the lead early on thanks to an absolutely ridiculous non-call by the referee after Jonathan Walters barged Adam Bogdan into the back of the net. Mark Davies and Kevin Davies goals on either side of the break would see Bolton pull ahead before a 76th minute Walters penalty would make it 2-2. That is how the match ended and Bolton Wanderers went down by one lousy point as Queens Park Rangers lost to Manchester City.
If there is anyone that can help Bolton break the streak, it is Dougie Freedman. The current Bolton manager has the team drilled and prepared as the play-offs loom large. For the first time in a long time, Botlon Wanderers fans have the utmost faith in their team and the men in white will look to capitalize.