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2004/05 season: The Road to Europe - A strong start

23 March 2020

Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers finished sixth in the Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the very first time in their history. Here, bwfc.co.uk takes a look through the archives to look back on a memorable season at the then Reebok Stadium.

Summer 2004

With a squad already packed full of stellar talent, Allardyce recruited the likes of Spanish legend Fernando Hierro, Premier League stalwart Gary Speed as well as World Cup winner Vincent Candela and Liverpool star El-Hadji Diouf, while veteran England striker Les Ferdinand arrived on a free transfer from Leicester City.

August

Wanderers kicked off their campaign in glorious fashion when they thrashed Charlton Athletic 4-1 at the Reebok Stadium in front of 24,100 fans, which saw them end the day in second position.

A brace each from Jay Jay Okocha and Henrik Pedersen ensured Wanderers outclassed their opponents.

The Wanderers captain opened the scoring with a trademark blistering 30-yard free-kick before supplying a beautiful pass to set up Pedersen for the second on the half-hour mark. The Dane duly celebrated with his renowned impression of a peacock!

Speed, making his Wanderers debut, was pulling the strings in midfield alongside Okocha as Wanderers dominated the game.

Okocha effectively killed the game off as a contest just before the hour when he grabbed his second. He produced a delightful bit of skill on the edge of the box to bamboozle his defender before unleashing a wicked low strike that evaded the despairing dive of Dean Kiely.

Speed hit a stunning cross-field pass to find Pedersen out on the right before the Dazzling Dane showed some great touch and control to fire in from distance to put the seal on the glorious opening day victory.

Wanderers were unable to follow this up on their travels the following week when they went down 2-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage where an Andy Cole brace ensure that Wanderers travelled back up North empty-handed.

The visitors had Jussi Jaaskelainen to thank for keeping the Cottagers at bay as Wanderers crashed back down to earth following their opening day demolition.

The Whites had a chance to make immediate amends in midweek as they travelled to St Mary’s for a clash against Southampton.

And that is exactly what they did, with Pedersen and Okocha once again on the scoresheet to claim their second victory in three matches.

Pedersen opened the scoring inside seven minutes when he sprang the offside trap to coolly slot past Antti Niemi from eight yards.

One became two after 27 minutes when Danny Higginbotham felled Stelios inside the box. Up stepped the Wanderers skipper to smash the ball from the penalty spot beyond Niemi to put the visitors in the driving seat.

Peter Crouch gave the Saints a glimmer of hope with five minutes remaining when he bundled the ball home before midfielder Claus Lundekvam missed a chance deep in injury time to steal what would have been an undeserved equaliser.

Allardyce’s men then ended the month with a victory against Liverpool in front of a capacity crowd at the Reebok Stadium.

Kevin Davies’ opening goal of the campaign came deep into the first half when he slammed home a powerful shot after finding himself unmarked in the box after receiving Pedersen’s centre.

The victory saw Wanderers solidify their third spot in the table.

Stayed tuned for Part Two which will be pubished in the coming days...


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