#FixtureReleaseDay: Unforgettable final day clashes

Nothing quite beats a bit of final day drama, and there has certainly been enough of it for the Bolton faithful over the years.

Who the Whites will play in their last game of 2018/19 is yet to be confirmed, but ahead of Thursday's fixture release day, bwfc.co.uk has profiled a number of memorable clashes on the final day of Wanderers' league campaigns.


Back in May 1997, Wanderers had already secured the Division One title courtesy of a 4-1 victory over Charlton Athletic in their final ever game at Burnden Park a week previous.

Travelling to Prenton Park for their last game of the campaign however, they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils as they went in search of 100 goals and points, with John McGinlay and Jamie Pollock’s efforts not enough for them to hit a century from their 46 games.

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Heading into the final game of the 2002/03 campaign, Wanderers’ mission was simple – match or better West Ham United’s result against Birmingham City, and they would play Premiership football for a third consecutive season.

And courtesy of goals from Per Frandsen and Jay-Jay Okocha, they picked up the victory they needed against a Middlesbrough side which featured former Whites striker Michael Ricketts – a man who scored what proved to be a consolation goal for his new side as the Trotters survived the drop on a dramatic final day.

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Coming into their final game of the campaign back in May 2005, the Whites had already secured UEFA Cup football for the first time in the club’s history with a draw against Portsmouth the week earlier.

Despite the clash with Everton not meaning too much on paper however, it was certainly a match to remember as the advantage swung to and fro, with Tim Cahill opening the scoring for the Toffees, while Bruno N’Gotty was sent off for Bolton before Radhi Jaidi equalised for the home side.

Kevin Davies then put the Trotters ahead for all of two minutes before Lee Carsley levelled, but it was to be Wanderers who snatched the winner with Stelios finding the net in the 66th minute to finish the scoring and send Bolton into the summer on a high.

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Despite being pegged back late on against Aston Villa on the last day of the 2006/07 season, the point they acquired against the Villans was enough to see the Whites secure UEFA Cup football for the second time.

Gary Speed had opened the scoring for Wanderers, before Craig Gardner pulled the visitors level five minutes later. Kevin Davies then restored Bolton’s advantage in the 58th minute and although Luke Moore equalised with nine minutes to go, it mattered not come the final whistle.

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With a win over Sunderland the week previous virtually confirming their safety from relegation, Wanderers travelled to the capital a decade ago knowing that they could only face the drop should there be a huge swing in goal difference.

And although Chelsea looked to have beaten the Whites courtesy of Andriy Shevchenko’s 62nd minute effort, Matt Taylor popped up in the 93rd minute of the clash to pull the Trotters level and send the travelling supporters into raptures.

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It was simple – win against Peterborough United, and Bolton Wanderers would return to the Sky Bet Championship at the first time of asking.

And the Whites didn’t disappoint, with Jem Karacan opening the scoring for the home side inside 22 minutes with a well-taken strike from Dorian Dervite’s cross before David Wheater doubled Phil Parkinson’s men’s advantage in the 53rd minute with a close-range header.

Not content with just the two goals however, Adam Le Fondre added the gloss to the victory with 15 minutes to play, with the Bolton faithful deliriously pouring onto the pitch come full time to celebrate the club’s return to the second tier of English football.

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A day that those associated with Bolton Wanderers will never forget, this victory was one which had looked almost impossible with three minutes of the clash remaining.

Despite taking the lead through Adam Le Fondre, goals from Ben Osborn and Jack Colback appeared to have sent the Whites heading back to Sky Bet League One.

In truly incredible fashion however, the Trotters staged the comeback of all comebacks with David Wheater levelling proceedings in the 87th minute before Aaron Wilbraham headed the ball past Stefanos Kapino to send Macron Stadium into delirium and spark jubilant celebrations come the final whistle.

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