Monday 14 May 2012

How Bolton Slipped into the Championship on Survival Sunday.

Bolton's fans arrived at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday hoping for an unlikely escape but prepared to enjoy a Premiership swansong and a relegation party.The final spot in the bottom three lay between themselves and Etihad bound QPR and of the nine possible permutations involving the two games only one,a Bolton win coupled with a QPR loss would keep Bolton in the top tier.

Stoke started the brighter of the two and the home crowd had barely finished their 10th minute tribute to their departing talismanic number 10,Ricky Fuller when they opened the scoring.Walters miscontrolled a fine chance just inside the six yard box,but recovered quickly enough to bundle the ball out of Bogdan's hands and over the line.Referee,Chris Foy looked towards his assistant for help,received none and almost inevitably awarded yet another controversial decision in the Potteries.

13 minutes in and Bolton's pre game chances of avoiding the drop fell from around 25% to below 10%.

Bolton immediately discarded any pretense at caution and the game became stretched as they went in search of goals and two arrived in bizarre fashion five minutes before the interval.Immediately after QPR fell behind to Manchester City,Stoke's Huth,restored to his unnatural full back position clattered an attempted clearance against Mark Davies' legs and into the net to restore Bolton to their pre game survival odds.Namesake Kevin then fired in a nearpost cross that was punched into his own net by a ring rusty Sorenson.Wanderers were now odds on to survive with a success probability in excess of 0.6.

Cisse's equaliser in Manchester briefly swung the odds back towards the London team,but Barton's meltdown and ensuing red card flipped the favourites again.Mackie's barely believable go ahead goal at the Etihad then booted Bolton back to square one once again and the unwelcome news visibly drained both team and supporters.A brief rendition of "Blue Moon" from the Bolton fans failed to produce any change in the QPR scoreline and Bolton's early exertions began to leave gaps for Stoke to exploit.Etherington sliced over from ten yards before Couch fell under Bogdan's challenge and Jonathan Walters scored the goal that ultimately kept QPR above the relegation line.Just over ten minutes of the season remained and Bolton's survival chances were down to 4%,due in no small part to QPR's lead over City.

Had Bolton believed that Manchester City would produce a miraculous injury time turnaround,they would no doubt have pressed forward with much more urgency as time expired.Two half chances and a barrage of corners was all they could produce in the final ten minutes.Although how much the knowledge that the Bolton game had already finished with QPR still level at the Etihad contributed towards Aguero's late,late winner only Rangers' players will know.

I was at Sunday's game and took advantage of the bright day to take some photos,including the goal that ultimately relegated Bolton,although true to form ref Chris Foy managed to get in the way of a clean shot!

A collage of photos from Sunday's Bolton Stoke game.

A few people have asked for a line plot of the probabilities,so here it'is.Personally I find it slightly more difficult to interpret.Major events such as goals or red cards are always major dislocations,but the can appear as more gradual changes on a line plot with a variable axis.

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