The Trotters had failed to pick up a solitary point on their own patch before Tony Pulis’ men came to town. The Potters had thrashed Owen Coyle’s side 5-1 in the FA Cup Semi Final in April and this result went a long way to burying the ghost that had lingered around the North West since then. Bolton have been in free fall since their last meeting but produced a display worthy of winning the cup itself. Whilst the win didn’t move them out of the relegation zone it did give the Reebok faithful reason to finally celebrate after seeing their side lose in their last five home fixtures. They also inflicted Stokes second defeat in a row and they were outplayed once again in a similar manner to their 3-1 loss at home to Newcastle on Monday. Pulis’ me looked jaded after a long trip to and from Tel Aviv on Thursday and it showed as they appeared half asleep as the home side took an early lead that was steeped in controversy.
Kevin Davies, reinstated to the starting lineup after being dropped to the bench last week, was on hand to open the scoring tapping in to an empty net from Klasnic’s free kick. Stoke were fuming after referee Howard Webb ruled that Glenn Whelan’s swipe into the hands of Asmir Begovic was a back pass then allowing Klasnic to play in his captain immediately to put the Trotters 1-0 up. That set the tone as Stoke struggled to match their opponents in every department and found themselves two behind with Eagles lashing home superbly after Begovic’s hooked clearance found the former Burnley winger. Bolton looked a different side to the one that had lost eight out of their last 10 games and went into half time full of confidence. The wind had been knocked out the visitors sails and they failed to mount a serious comeback in the second half although they did have half a chance to half the deficit but Cameron Jerome’s header zipped narrowly wide. They almost came unstuck at the opposite end but had Begovic to thank for racing out of goal and denying Fabrice Muamba the chance to score a Bolton third.
However it wasn’t long before the Trotters did extend their lead with Klasnic sweeping home from the edge of the area just after the hour mark following a flowing move involving Eagles and the energetic Mark Davies. It was game, set and match 12 minutes later with Eagles producing a delightful dinked finish after latching onto Klasnic’s fine pass. Stoke were going down without a whimper and they found themselves on the end of a thrashing as Bolton continued the scoring nine minutes from time to cap off arguably their best performance of the season. It was Klasnic again on the scoresheet heading home from close range for his fifth goal off the season after David Wheater had nodded on Davies’ corner to complete a remarkable revenge mission and put the Trotters firmly back on the right track.