Owen Coyle’s men needed to beat the Potters and hope QPR were defeated by Manchester City to stay up, and in the end Mark Hughes’ team did lose to the eventual Premier League champions.
Bolton had taken the lead after goals from Mark Davies and Kevin Davies had cancelled out a controversial Jonathan Walters opener, but a 77th-minute penalty by Walters gave the Potters a point, and saw the Reebok Stadium outfit demoted.
Trotters manager Coyle was livid with the refereeing decisions in both of the goals they conceded and frustrated at being relegated to the Championship.
“My feelings are obviously with our supporters and our wonderful club,” he told Sky Sports.
“I felt that we did enough to win the game after a slow start but the decisions – you’ve seen them yourself today.
“For that first goal to be allowed when Jonathan Walters clearly headed the arm of my goalkeeper when he’s got the ball in his hands, it was beyond belief that that could be given at this level but it was.
“And then we picked ourselves up, got 2-1 in front and had chances to go 3-1 and really put the game to bed.
“And then we allowed Stoke to come on at us with a little bit of pressure, although not any great goal-scoring opportunities.
“As it happens, Crouch has had a chance, Adam’s made a great save of it and then Crouch has played it around him.
“But for me it’s as soft a penalty as you’ll ever get because Crouch has actually stumbled into Adam.
“Adam is not even looking at him – he’s looking at where he’s played the ball.
“But even then at two-each we still put ourselves up the park, Tim Ream’s had a great header in the last seconds of added time, a great save from the Stoke goalkeeper which would have afforded the three points and kept us in the Barclays Premier League.
“So of course it’s difficult to take, it’s a range of emotions,” the Scot concluded.
By Gareth McKnight