DOUGIE TAKES IT IN HIS STRIDE

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Oliver Rhodes

BOLTON Wan­der­ers’ play-off hopes were shat­tered in the dy­ing mo­ments of an­other game, but man­ager Dougie Freed­man calmly ac­cepted the cruel twist of fate af­ter a draw against Black­pool.

Sit­ting in the fi­nal play-off place be­fore the start of play, the Trot­ters were aim­ing to make their dream of re­join­ing the Pre­mier League a re­al­ity with their ninth con­sec­u­tive home win.

But de­spite an in­spi­ra­tional come­back against Black­pool with Chris Ea­gles and Craig Davies re­spond­ing to goals from Matt Phillips and Lu­dovic Sylvestre, Le­ices­ter City and An­thony Knock­aert over­threw Bolton in in­jury-time.

How­ever, Freed­man looked for the pos­i­tives in the per­for­mance and be­lieves the club are on the right track even if the play­ers were left crest­fallen.

“It isn’t to be, but we have shown fan­tas­tic spirit, char­ac­ter and bits of qual­ity over th­ese three months. It shows me there are a lot of pos­i­tives look­ing for­ward,” he said.

“I feel quite ex­cited, be­cause the pic­ture is un­fold­ing in front of me.

“Now I know what I’ve got and where we are. As a coach, it’s a fan­tas­tic tool to have in know­ing what you have to do.

“The game taught me some­thing in terms of my play­ers and what ac­tion we have to take over the sum­mer.

“The play­ers are dis­ap­pointed, but play­ers are very short-sighted. All they were wor­ried about was win­ning this game.

“I was one a few years ago and that’s how they deal with th­ese things. That is why we have coaches and man­age­ment to make sure they look for­ward and have a good sum­mer.”

Bolton failed to heed the early warn­ings from Phillips and the for­ward found the top cor­ner af­ter good in­ter­play with Tom Ince in the 21st min­utes.

Black­pool de­liv- ered an­other blow with Sylvestre coolly sweep­ing Neal Eard­ley’s cross be­yond the stranded Adam Bog­dan.

But Ea­gles re­duced the deficit with half-time ap­proach­ing by burst­ing to­wards goal and link­ing with Mar­cos Alonso, be­fore fir­ing his shot in off the cross­bar.

As the Trot­ters brimmed with hope, Davies equalised via Stephen Crainey’s de­flec­tion to send the Ree­bok into rap- tures and fin­ish a fine first half.

Bolton piled on the pres­sure af­ter the in­ter­val and Alonso forced Matt Gilks to parry his curl­ing free-kick in the 68th minute.

Sylvestre looked to break Bolton hearts but, be­sides Bog­dan’s bril­liant fin­ger­tip save, Le­ices­ter’s Knock­aert in­di­rectly per­formed that role.

Fol­low­ing the col­lec­tive full­time whis­tles, Black­pool boss Paul Ince spared kind words for his man­age­rial coun­ter­part and for his highly-cov­eted son,Tom.

“We should have been four or five goals up, be­fore they scored,” he said.

“Some of the football we played was fan­tas­tic and it was pleas­ing to see Phillips score.

“Bolton looked ner­vous, but you would be when know­ing the im­por­tance of get­ting into the play-offs.

“I feel sorry for Dougie, be­cause he’s done an amaz­ing job and he is prob­a­bly hurt­ing.

“But Black­pool were knocked out in the play-off fi­nal last year so our play­ers will un­der­stand.You have to come back stronger and I’m sure Dougie and his play­ers will.

“As a fa­ther, you want to see your son play at the high­est level. But as a man­ager, you want to keep your best play­ers and Tom is cer­tainly one.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

SLOT­TED HOME: Lu­dovic Sylvestre scores the sec­ond goal for Black­pool

GOOD­BYE: De­part­ing Bolton striker Kevin Davies wipes away the tears

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