DOUGIE TAKES IT IN HIS STRIDE
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.”
SLOTTED HOME: Ludovic Sylvestre scores the second goal for Blackpool
GOODBYE: Departing Bolton striker Kevin Davies wipes away the tears