TROTTERS ARE OH SO CLOSE TO GLORY
Just win or draw needed
BOLTON took a huge step closer to automatic promotion with victory against ten-man Port Vale, but boss Phil Parkinson warned his players not to take anything for granted ahead of the final day.
Wanderers host Peterborough next weekend, knowing a draw should be enough to seal second place and promotion to the Championship, after David Wheater and Gary Madine’s goals at Vale Park.
Vale – who played for an hour with ten men after Rigino Cilia’s sending-off – must now win both of their remaining games, at Walsall and Fleetwood, to stand any chance of staying up.
Wheater’s goal sparked a pitch invasion, which led to the players being taken off for ten minutes, and at the time – with Fleetwood losing at Gillingham – it looked as though Wanderers were finishing the job with a game to spare..
But Parkinson insists Fleetwood’s stoppage-time winner, which takes the promotion race to the final day, will not play on Bolton’s minds this week.
“We couldn’t have asked any more of the lads – it was a solid away-from-home performance and it was really important to get a confidence-boosting win after recent results not going our way,” he explained.
“Like I’ve said to the lads, nothing is ever given to you. No point that we’ve earned, especially on our travels, has been given to us this season.
“Promotions are certainly not handed to you on a plate and we’re going to have to go out and earn it next week.
“Without doubt we were disappointed when we heard about Fleetwood’s winner but I’ve said to the lads to just imagine how Fleetwood are feeling – when they see our result, that will quieten them down.”
Vale caretaker boss Michael Brown is refusing to throw in the towel, meanwhile, despite now being on the verge of relegation to League Two.
“I think there’s a chance of staying up, but we’ve got to win on Tuesday,” he said.
“If we play like we did until the first goal, with that endeavour and desire, then we’ve certainly got a
chance. We’ll be taking the game to Walsall.
“I think we can get a result, and I want to see a result so we can go into that last game. Tensions will be high and you can never say never.”
On the game, Brown admitted the delay after the first goal took the sting out of the match at a crucial time.
“The suspension of the match impacted everybody and it let Bolton consolidate a little bit and for us it was a case of trying to get going again,” he added.
“It is very disappointing to see scenes like that at football matches. We understand fans want to celebrate but unfortunately some people take it that bit too far.”
Chances were few in the firsthalf, and the game-changing moment came on 33 minutes when Cicilia was penalised for handball – receiving a second yellow card just eight minutes after being booked for a rash challenge on Madine.
Despite being a man down, Port Vale responded well and Jerome Thomas hit the post on 51 minutes when a loose ball fell to him in the area.
Moments later, Foley’s longrange effort was heading well wide across goal, but Dan Turner dived in to deflect it goalwards and Howard saved low.
Against the run of play, Wanderers took the lead though – Wheater rising highest to head in Filipe Morais’ right-wing free-kick on 66 minutes after Andre Bikey clumsily fouled Adam Le Fondre to give them the opportunity.
When play resumed after the ten-minute delay the impetus had been taken out of the game and Madine sealed victory with ten minutes remaining.
He easily tapped in from closerange after Morais’ precise pull-back.
HALT: The game is stopped during the second half after a pitch invasion
JUMP FOR JOY: David Wheater celebrates scoring Bolton’s first goal after which, inset, Bolton fans invade the pitch
DEJECTED: Rigino Cicilia is sent off