A week ago Bolton Wanderers dropped into the bottom three having had their destiny in their own hands for months. In an insipid display at Burton Albion, Bolton failed to register a shot on target. Skip forward a week and a day and Bolton registered more than any other Championship side with 9 of their 24 shots being on target.
In that game at the Pirelli Stadium there were accusations that the players did not care, and Burton certainly seemed to be the team more up for the fight. In this game against Nottingham Forest though no one could level that accusation against the side.
From Aaron Wilbraham to Josh Vela the players put in their best performances of the season to pull off the impossible. Wilbraham has in particular had a hard time of it during his solitary season at Bolton. I will not pretend I was not one of those annoyed when we signed him and being critical all year, I was though also running the site’s Twitter for the game and noted he had a chance to be a hero. For him to end the season on a career high as a 38 year old is incredible. If you had told me a couple of months ago that on the final day of the season Bolton fans would be referring to the guy as the second coming of Jesus I would have laughed at you. But that is what makes moments like this in football all the more special isn’t it?
From West Bromwich Albion to Fulham, and even Bolton under Gary Megson, the great escape is not a new concept. But how many times have a team needed two goals in the last 3 minutes of normal time and for their rival not to grab a winner in a game they are dominating against 10 men? I challenge you to find an escape more improbable with 5 minutes of the season left.
I mean Bolton scored only 1 less goal than Barcelona did in the last five minutes against Paris Saint German. Yeah they had to score 6 in the whole game but teams like Barca are meant to be able to do that sort of thing, whereas little old Bolton are not.
This was a day where a group of players came together to show what it meant to them. They will have boosted their stock before a summer where many of them are out of contract, and gained that story for the grandchildren. But they also showed what it meant to them not to be relegated and to keep our great club in the second tier, for one more year at least.