Thursday 22 February 2018

Coyle upbeat but Bolton look doomed

Bolton 2 West Brom 2 Ian Whittell

Mark Hughes may have questioned the timing of the FA's announcement of Roy Hodgson's elevation to the national team post in midweek but, following the remarkable events at the Reebok Stadium, he will surely have raised a glass to West Bromwich Albion's outgoing manager.

With 20 seconds remaining, and with Hughes's Queens Park Rangers having taken the lead against Stoke moments before, Albion substitute James Morrison volleyed past Adam Bogdan from six yards, earning his team a point and, quite possibly, condemning Bolton to relegation in the process.

It completed a spectacular late collapse from Owen Coyle's team, who had seemed well in control with 16 minutes left, leading 2-0 thanks to a Martin Petrov penalty and a Billy Jones own goal, prompted by the Bolton winger.

But the nerves and self-doubt, that had been lurking just below the surface at the Reebok erupted in spectacular fashion after Chris Brunt halved the deficit in the 74th minute.

After the dust had settled on an appalling afternoon for Coyle, the bare statistic for his team is that a defeat or draw at Stoke on Sunday will end his club's 11-year Premier League sojourn.

Even a victory will not necessarily guarantee survival.

"We have to pick ourselves up because if we win our next game, I truly believe it will be enough to keep us in the Premier League," said Coyle.

"There's no getting away from how disappointing it was to draw this game that to all intents and purposes we were well-placed to win. The two goals were avoidable but that's how quickly football changes.

"QPR scored late on and we conceded.That's why we know as well, for all this disappointment, that everything can change very quickly next week.

"It was always my belief we would need four points from our last two games and we have taken one today when it should have been three.

"Now it's plain and simple, we have to win at Stoke."

The psychological damage of the equaliser was evident as Bolton were booed from the pitch by their supporters. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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