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17:04 13th May 2012

Walters Double Earns City A Point

TWO-GOAL Jonathan Walters condemned his former club Bolton Wanderers to relegation by ensuring that Stoke City ended an epic season with their sixth draw in the last ten matches in the Barclays Premier League at the Britannia Stadium.

The Republic of Ireland international put the Potters in front when he bundled home a close range header and then he calmly fired in a late penalty when it appeared that Bolton had turned the game around to boost their chances of beating the drop.

It was a Davies double that raised their hopes as Mark grabbed the equaliser when an Andy Wilkinson clearance cannoned off him and then Kevin managed to squeeze in the second right on the stroke of half time with a cross from the right.

City pushed hard for the winner after Walters had grabbed his second, but couldn't force the issue to finish the season in 14th place on 45 points.

Pulis had welcomed back fit-again full-back Wilkinson and had retained Fuller in his starting line-up as City looked to finish the season on a high note.

Fuller was given a rousing reception when his name was announced and the Jamaican star was soon in the action with a run down the right, but his cross was overhit and carried well beyond the reach of both Crouch and Walters in the middle.

City had more success down the right when Whitehead slipped a pass into the path Wilkinson overlapping, but his cross was claimed by Bogdan.

The goal was only a few minutes old when Etherington and Fuller switched flanks and it was once again the popular striker who featured prominently when he cut in from the left and unleashed a low shot which was well saved by Bogdan.

The tenth minute of the game saw the home supporter break into chants saluting Fuller, and it sparked a spell of pressure which eventually led to them taking the lead in a controversial manner from former Bolton player Walters.

A quickly taken thrown by Walters saw Crouch fire a volley inches past the upright and then moments later Etherington cut inside from the right and curled a shot towards the top corner which Bogdan got across to save moving to his right.

When Etherington then played a ball into the box, Walters sprung the offside trap only for his initial control to let the ball run from his reach. However, he followed it up by bundling a header over the line and the officials gave the goal.

Understandably in the circumstances, Bolton were incensed at the decision as television replays showed that Bogdan had the ball in his hands.

City must have felt it was going to be their day when moments after going behind, Sorensen failed to take a Petrov cross from the left cleanly, but ricocheted off the covering Huth and rolled the wrong side of the post with the net gaping.

Walters went close to stretching the Potters' lead in the 27th minute when Whitehead bursting down the right pulled the ball back to him; the Republic of Ireland international swivelling sharply to send a left foot shot just past the far post.

Some excellent work from Crouch saw the England striker start and then finish a move which led to Bogdan having the make another crucial save.

The club record signing set Whithead away with the deftest of headers and then collected the return pass before hitting a fierce shot from 25 yards.

Bolton responded with their best spell of the match up to that point as Kevin Davies met a Petrov cross with a glancing header that looped beyond the reach of the diving Sorensen but bounced on the top of the bar much to City's relief.

Back the came the visitors though and when Shawcross couldn't get any distance on his clearance, Klasnic met it with a fierce drive that was turned behind by the diving Sorensen at full stretch when it appeared to be creeping inside his right hand post.

Bolton did, however, get themselves back on level terms five minutes before the break in a rather bizarre fashion through Mark Davies.

It was, in fact, the midfielder who instigated the chance with a burst forward and when he continued his run into the box, Wilkinson's attempt to clear the ball cannoned off him Davies flew past a helpless Sorensen to make it one apiece.

With news filtering through that Queens Park Rangers had fallen behind, the Bolton players and their fans were lifted by the sudden turnaround.

And they took the lead on the stroke of half time with another crazy goal from an innocuous position when Kevin Davies delivered what appeared to be a cross from the right hand side, but Sorensen misjudged it and allowed it to creep in at his near post.

There was an immediate opportunity for the Potters to get themselves back on level terms at the start of the second half when Etherington curled a free kick into the box, but the unmarked Shawcross got his header horribly wrong.

At the other end though, Bolton had a fantastic chance to stretch their lead when Mark Davies threaded a pass into the path of Petrov on the left had edge of the box and he drilled a low shot across Sorensen but just inches past the far post.

That prompted Pulis into making his first change of the afternoon as Jerome replaced Fuller and he was immediately in the thick of the action with a burst into box that had the City players appealing for a penalty as he appeared to be pulled back.

City quickly carved out a clearcut opening to level it up at two apiece when Whelan spotted Etherington's run into the box, but the winger scooped his first time shot over the bar.

Bolton's main objective at this stage was to hold onto their lead, but the Potters did little to endanger that as they struggled to make headway.

Some neat link-up work between Walters and Jerome led to Crouch volleying a cross into the box, but Bogdan's handling was clean under pressure.

However, the Potters were handed the opportunity to draw level in the 77th minute when Crouch, having had one close range shot blocked by Bogdan, was brought down by the 'keeper and referee Foy immediately pointed to the spot.

Walters duly accepted the chance to claim his secong goal of the game by dispatching the penalty in his customary manner, giving Bogdan no chance.

Bolton threw on Sordell in place of Kevin Davies and he was immediately in the action with a cross from the left that was blazed high and wide by Eagles at the far post.

City had the ball in the net with five minutes remaining when Jerome sidefooted home a shot on goal from Crouch, but the linesman ruled him offside.

Even though Queens Park Rangers were winning at Manchester City, Bolton kept pressing in the hope that they could snatch a late winner and the Potters were forced into some defiant defending going into four minutes of injury time.

With time running out, Sorensen pulled off an excellent reflex save to keep out a close range header from Ream who had met it firmly from Petrov's corner.

    Data provided by Press Association


    The Potters played out four replays to finally beat Bury in the FA Cup in 1955