Davison was dismissed after 11 minutes for pulling down the Stoke striker Paul Peschisolido in the penalty area, and Shilton proceeded to make several excellent saves in an exciting match that ended 1-1. Bolton's failure to win means that Middlesbrough are champions of the First Division and claim the only automatic Premiership promotion place.
Shilton, who lost his job as manager of Plymouth in January, was playing his first senior game for 18 months. He was unable to saves Toddy Orlygsson's penalty, but Bolton equalised 11 minutes later when John McGinlay struck his 20th goal of the season.
Shilton said: "Leaving management has helped me to get my fitness levels back and I still feel that I've got something to offer. Everything happened so fast that I was in a state of shock early on, but I soon settled down and it was nice to make a couple of good saves."