Bolton Wanderers ended their three game goalless run to run out 2-0 winners against a Port Vale side who played with ten men for the majority of the game.
Wanderers knew that a win would be enough to secure promotion if Fleetwood Town failed to beat Gillingham. Despite falling behind twice, the Cod Army took the promotion race to the last day with a 92nd minute goal from Kyle Dempsey.
Wanderers were nervy in the first half, but were buoyed by the return of Gary Madine. In a first half of little action, Rigino Cicilia took the game literally into his own hands, and was shown a second yellow card for a hand ball in the Wanderers penalty box. With the memories of our inability to beat a ten man Oldham, hopes were hardly raised.
The game opened up in the second half, with Vale pushing forward despite the numerical disadvantage. This opened proceedings for Bolton to hit back, and were desperately unlucky not to win a penalty for a handball from an Andy Taylor shot.
Little more than five minutes later, Wanderers got the goal they needed. A Filipe Morais free kick (who else?) was headed in by David Wheater (who else?) and with Gillingham 2-1 up, fans ran onto the pitch in celebration.
They were met by a mob of rather angry Port Vale fans, and unpleasantries ensued. The police and stewards were unable to control the ugly scenes, and the referee ordered the players off the pitch.
After a ten minute delay in play, the players were back out. Vale had to press forward, but rarely looked a threat. With the minutes ticking down, the brilliant Filipe Morais assisted Gary Madine, who put the game to bed, proving that he is indeed an incredibly important player for Phil Parkinson.
With the minutes ticking down, the Whites were comfortable. Fleetwood equalised, but that meant little. What stunned the Bolton fans in the away end was the news that Fleetwood had come from behind to win 3-2. Whatever the Wanderers result, promotion would not be decided until the last day.
Next Sunday, Wanderers host Peterborough, whilst Fleetwood host Port Vale. Based on today’s performance, I wouldn’t expect anything but a home win. The only permeatation that would see the Whites in the play-offs would be if Fleetwood were to win, and Wanderers lose. Anything else (thanks to our +8 goal difference compared to Fleetwood), and we’ll be promoted to the Championship. I can almost smell it.