Preston North End. 0
IN THE heady aftermath of Wanderers' FA Cup victory at Liverpool in January, the Lord Mayor of Bolton promised to be on the town hall steps when they brought home the trophy. Wild talk. But His Worship can now take up his anticipated position with pride - Bolton have something else to celebrate.
A single, late penalty by John McGinlay assured them of an automatic place in the First Division next season, a height they have not scaled for a decade. It also consigned their Lancashire neighbours Preston to their second relegation in two years; John Beck's men never looked capable of earning the three points they required to have a chance of staying up.
Nevertheless, as Bolton failed to turn a succession of chances into goals, Preston appeared increasingly likely to earn a point which would have left both combatants frustrated.
The home side had to wait until 15 minutes from the end before gaining their crucial advantage. By then, their normal composure was giving way to nervous over-elaboration, and their anxiety was shared by the bulk of a sell-out, 21,720 crowd as radios spread the news that Port Vale, who began the day a point adrift of Bolton, had come from 1-2 down to 3-2 up to take temporary hold of the second promotion position.
When the industrious winger David Lee, who had hit the bar with the goal at his mercy in the first half, drove in yet another cross, the ball appeared to strike Simon Burton in the midriff. But the referee, who had turned down a vociferous Bolton penalty appeal five minutes earlier, pointed to the spot. McGinlay placed his shot low to the goalkeeper's left.
Bolton Wanderers: K Branagan; P Brown, D Burke, D Lee, M Seagraves, A Stubbs, T Kelly, J McAteer, J Darby (S Green, 61 min), J McGinlay, M Patterson. Sub not used: M Winstanley. Manager: B Rioch.
Preston North End: S Farnworth; Callaghan, R Lucas, Whalley, R Kidd, C Greenall, J Fowler (Watson, h-t), G Ainsworth, M Norbury, S Burton, Leonard. Sub not used: Holland. Manager: John Beck.
Referee: J A Kirkby (Sheffield).
Goal: McGinlay pen (1-0, 75 min).Reuse content