Filtering home games into a top five is an almost impossible task, but I will make the impossible possible here! Inevitably there will be games left out which you think should be on the list so let’s see your top five in the comments below!
5) Bolton 5-0 Stoke City, Sunday 6th November 2011
That was nice wasn’t it? Nothing could ever make up for that FA cup match but trashing them five nil certainly exercised some demons!
The first goal was scored by a certain Kevin Davies after a quick free-kick after the Stoke keeper had picked up a back pass. Stoke were upset by the taking of a quick free-kick, but I don’t care. Asmir Begovic showed that he was a closet Bolton fan by playing a part in the second goal too botching up a clearance which the excellent Chris Eagles was on hand to punish him for.
Not only was Eagles on top form that day but Mark Davies was also majestic for Bolton. The two combined to set up a certain Ivan Klasnic for his first goal of the afternoon. Fabrice Muamba and Nigel Reo-Coker could have added to Bolton’s lead, but to everyone’s surprise failed to do so… But Davies and Klasnic combined to set up Eagles for the fourth goal of the afternoon and his second. Eagles lifted it over Begovic who is described as being bemused, must be confusing for a goalkeeper to see the ball traveling towards them.
Klasnic would then go on to divert David Wheater’s header home to add Bolton’s fifth and his second. Two goals and two assists capped a magnificent display by the Croat that day. Joe Riley could have made it six on an impressive first team debut, as could Tuncay. The fact that they failed to do so is the only disappointment from the day, would have been great to have put more past Bolton’s least favourite footballing establishment of recent times!
4) Bolton 2-2 Manchester United, Saturday 26th September 2010
We often came so close but were never beat United at home, with the exception of Gary Megson first season to my knowledge. But I do remember the sheer excitement of following this game.
It took only six minutes for Bolton to take the lead with walking calamity Zat Knight heading home. He beat (insert insult) Jonny Evans to the ball from a corner. Jussi Jaaskelainen was called into action to keep both Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher out. But Bolton also had their chances with Johan Elmander once again failing to score a goal.
But eventually Bolton’s resistance was broken when Nani scored a solo effort, not too dissimilar to one Sam Ricketts had failed to convert earlier in the game. I don’t know if that shows how good Ricketts is or how normal Nani was but I also don’t care. United piled forward in an attempt to find a second. But left themselves open to a counter attack and Martin Petrov took full advantage scoring with a deflected shot.
And then Elmander did what Elmander does best. He brilliantly took the ball past Nemanja Vidic only to put it in row Z. Bolton were punished for wasting good chances such as that as Michael Owen scored the equaliser to gain a share of the spoils from an absorbing game of football.
3) Bolton 2-1 Blackburn, Friday 26th December 2014
It was a toss-up here. It could be either last season’s match where Emile Heskey got the equaliser or the game in which Stuart Holden pulled off that magnificent winning goal. Last season’s match was possibly the best game of football I have watched, certainly while being at the game. For that reason it edges out the match where Holden scored this goal.
For those who have forgotten that was only 7.5 seconds after the restart. My personal favourite factor was the two Blackburn fans who had invaded the pitch following the Blackburn equaliser still being led out of the ground. I am reliably informed by one of those fans who commented on the beating Blackburn memories article for this game that the look on their face was priceless, well he said pained so priceless for us! Not only was that one of my favourite ever goals, but it was also one that Holden himself remembers fondly.
But now down to the game at hand. Many will remember this game vividly as I cannot remember the last time I saw so many people at the Macron. In fact it was probably the highest attendance the Macron Stadium (i.e. post the re-brand) has seen, and as such the atmosphere was electric which is another thing going for this game.
During the first half Blackburn managed to miss two or three glorious opportunities, one of which was so close it brushed the side netting in such a way as to make it appear it was in. The Blackburn fans celebrated and we cheered ironically back, good times… That was also the case down the other end when Eidur Gudjohnsen somehow missed a glorious opportunity of his own, something my Dad did not realise for a good minute after the rest of us. And queue ironic cheers from the Blackburn end.
Blackburn did finally find their deserved break through and as such led 1-0 at half time. It seemed like it would be a disappointing day in the office for Bolton, but Heskey had something to say about that!
The big man changed the game. Suddenly Bolton were on top as he won everything hit his way and even showed some blistering pace (ok slight exaggeration). And eventually Blackburn’s defence was breached. Gudjohnsen played a wonderful ball across the box and that man Heskey was there to score a debut goal, break the internet and make Paddy McGuinness into a shoe shiner.
Bolton were not finished with that. Darren Pratley was on hand to score Bolton’s second and send Bolton fans home with lots of Christmas cheer!
2) Bolton 3-1 Arsenal, Saturday 25th November 2006
I remember watching this game on TV in a bar. There were a couple of Arsenal fans sat next to us who randomly disappeared at 2-0; I have no idea why…
This game was chosen as one of the best games of the season by the Premier League, and as such you can download full highlights for a couple of quid off iTunes. I don’t mind admitting that I have done that and wondered down memory lane on a number of occasions!
Apparently before the match Arsenal promised to be more of a match to Bolton’s physical approach. That is one of the funniest jokes I have heard in a very long time, right up there with Wigan Athletic… Arsenal did, in their defence, start the game brightly. Bolton struggled with Theo Walcott’s pace, but thankfully for us Emmanuel Adebayor was playing up front for them so it came to nothing.
Then Abdoulaye Faye was allowed to make a run to the near post and head home from an El-Hadji Diouf’s corner. It turned into a similar story for Arsenal were given no space and we were tearing them apart at set pieces. Kevin Davies then of course showed what a legend he is by pushing Eboue to the ground, but being such a top bloke he knew the letter of the law and it was only a yellow, as was right and proper!
Bolton had control of the game at this point adding quality to the hard working style to cause Arsenal all sorts of problems. This is where that goal comes in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about be ashamed and watch the link below! Nicolas Anelka scored an absolute screamer. Maybe the greatest goal scored at the Reebok? I can’t remember one better from a Bolton boot at least.
Arsenal did though pull a goal back to go into the break only a goal down. I like to think we let them score because the worse thing is false hope callously whipped away but I doubt we will ever know for sure. Arsenal then came out after the break firing but it was not enough for them. Bolton hit them on the counter attack with a magnificent Ivan Campo pass which Anelka finished off brilliantly.
That goal secured Bolton’s fourth home win in five games against the Gunners, I wonder how many teams could have boasted that during the Premier League era?
1) Bolton 2-1 Middlesbrough, Sunday 11th May 2003
This is the first match I remember being at, which is one reason it makes my list. But there is also the magnitude of the match, securing our Premier League status on the final day of the season. For anyone who wants to relive this game here it is (if you don’t want to relive it then I probably don’t like you…).
In order to survive that season Bolton needed to match or better West Ham United’s result that day. And by beating Middlesbrough we of course managed that, I believe we actually bettered the result as West Ham drew.
Bolton took control of their destiny that season courtesy of a spectacular Per Frandsen goal. He wrestled the ball back in midfield before taking a few touches and firing home from range. Then it was talisman Jay Jay Okocha’s turn. Bolton where awarded a free-kick which Okocha proceeded to take quickly and miss. The ref pulled him back to retake it, so good he took it twice maybe? Okocha put a brilliant free-kick into the top corner to surely all but secure Bolton’s survival after 20 minutes of the game.
But former Wanderer Michael Ricketts had something to say about that. He came off the bench to score his first goal for Boro to ensure that it was a nervy last half an hour at the Reebok. Franck Quedrue though being a top bloke helped to settle those nerves. Picking up a yellow after an Ivan Campo dive, what a player Campo was, he sought revenge and earned himself a straight red in the process.
News come through that West Ham were not winning their game, sparking celebration at the Reebok as Bolton secured a third consecutive season in the top flight for the first time in 40 years. The rest of course is history as thanks to that result Bolton where able to embark on one of the most successful periods in the clubs history.