Report: Bolton Wanderers 2 Blackpool 2
Two goals in first half stoppage time denied Blackpool a winning end to the season, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Bolton.
Goals from Matt Phillips and Ludovic Sylvestre put The Seasiders in front, before Chris Eagles and Craig Davies struck back to earn a point for Dougie Freedman's side.
Going into the game the pressure was all on the home side, who knew that three points would secure them a playoff place.
However it was Blackpool who began as the side looking like promotion contenders, showing the kind of carefree attacking football that saw them top the table back in August.
Phillips curled a shot into the side netting early on after cutting inside from the left, before getting forward again to fire in a cross which almost found its way in off the boot of Darren Pratley.
The winger then had his third opportunity to attack inside the opening four minutes, when he latched on to the end of a defence splitting through ball. He steadied himself to shoot, but pulled his effort across goal and wide.
After that bright start, the Tangerines found themselves with some defending to do at the other end, but Stephen Crainey and Gary MacKenzie stood firm to deny Rob Hall and then Pratley from a couple of Wanderers' set pieces.
Craig Davies then found space in the box to meet a Chris Eagles corner, but the former Barnsley striker could only hook his shot off target.
The Seasiders continued to look dangerous in attack though, and were duly rewarded in the 20th minute. Some lovely intricate passing on the edge of the area between Ludovic Sylvestre, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Phillips found the latter with space to shoot inside the box, and this time he made no mistake, rifling a left-footed shot beyond Bogdan and into the net.
BOLTON WANDERERS 0 BLACKPOOL 1
Knowing their playoff chances were now hanging by a thread, Bolton pressed for a quick equiliser, but Davies could only volley over after receiving the ball on the edge of the area.
The striker then had another opportunity to try and test Gilks, this time from a freekick, but again he could only power his shot into the sea of tangerine behind the goal.
Gilks was tested for the first time just moments later, after a backheel from Chung-Yong Lee set Hall racing into the area. The West Ham loanee shot across the Pool stopper, who did well to parry and then recover the ball ahead of Davies.
Phillips had saved one of his best games of the campaign until last, and was continuing to torment the Wanderers' defence at will. He wriggled his way through challenges from Sam Ricketts, Zat Knight and Tim Ream, before Bogdan rushed off his line to gather the ball.
There was nothing the Hungarian could do to prevent Pool moments later though, as another wonderful move saw them double their advantage. Neal Eardley clipped the ball into the centre of the penalty area, where it was met perfectly by Sylvestre, who side footed the ball home.
BOLTON WANDERERS 0 BLACKPOOL 2
That goal sparked Dougie Freedman into drastic action, as Hall was replaced by Marvin Sordell. Gilks remained largely untroubled though, that was until a manic last two minutes saw the home side somehow enter the break on level terms.
First, a break down the right hand side saw Marcos Alonso square the ball to Chris Eagles. The chance looked to be slipping away as the winger struggled to keep his balance, but he managed to adjust to get enough on his shot to place it in off the cross bar.
BOLTON WANDERERS 1 BLACKPOOL 2
Then, with a matter of seconds remaining in the half, Bolton were level. Eagles drove forward at the Pool back-line and laid the ball off to Davies. His shot looked to be heading straight towards Gilks until it cruelly deflected in off Crainey.
BOLTON WANDERERS 2 BLACKPOOL 2
HALF TIME: BOLTON WANDERERS 2 BLACKPOOL 2
Unsurprisingly buoyed by that turn of events, Bolton began the second period with an attack. Eagles crossed the ball in towards Davies, who couldn't do enough to direct his header on target.
The Seasiders saw out the early storm however and began to look for an opportunity to restore their lead. Ince caused panic in the Bolton ranks with a run towards goal, but Ream did just enough to clear his lines.
A stunning piece of defending from MacKenzie then kept his side level, after an Eagles corner traveled all the way to Lee at the back post. His cross looked certain to be turned in by Medo Kamara or Davies, until the big centre-half acrobatically cleared.
With 25 minutes remaining Ince opted to make his first two changes of the afternoon, as Nathan Delfouneso and Isaiah Osbourne replaced Taylor-Fletcher and Chris Basham.
Midfielder Osbourne's first contribution was to be penalised for a foul 20 yards from goal, handing Alonso the chance to take aim at goal. The full-back curled a shot on target, but Gilks was equal to it, pushing the ball clear at full stretch.
The home side then had an even better chance to clinch what would have been a vital three points for them, when Eagles played in Lee down the right hand side. The South Korean opened his body up to shoot, but could only find the side netting.
Bolton's pouring men forward gave Blackpool the chance to counter attack, and they almost won it themselves when Sylvestre set substitute Nathan Eccleston racing towards goal. His attempted shot was blocked by Knight, but from the corner Sylvestre went within Bogdan's fingertips of another stunning goal to add to his collection.
The French midfielder exchanged passes with Crainey, before firing a strike towards goal that the Hungarian just managed to tip over.
FULL TIME: BOLTON WANDERERS 2 BLACKPOOL 2