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BOLTON, the scourge of Merseyside, fell short of extending their FA Cup cull of their betters last night. A goal from Owen Coyle four minutes from time earned them a replay of this fourth-round tie at Highbury next Wednesday and they will travel to the capital with hope. Arsenal will anticipate the match with less relish.
Bolton have made a habit of drawing at Burnden Park and then embarrassing their Premiership opponents on their own grounds. They did so against Liverpool a year ago and repeated the feat against Everton in the previous round. Arsenal, the holders, have been warned.
There was plenty of evidence last night, too, to concern the Gunners. Bolton needed a late goal to earn the replay but at 2-1 to Arsenal the scoreline represented an injustice to the First Division side. Theirs was the more incisive attack and in John McGinlay they had the best player on the pitch.
'Our defence has rarely had to work so hard this season,' George Graham, the Arsenal manager, said. 'It's going to be a close match at Highbury. I saw them at Goodison and they certainly won't be scared of playing there.'
In the first half, particularly, Bolton enhanced their reputation as one of the more enterprising sides in the First Division, repeatedly prising small gaps in the visiting defence.
Coyle (twice), David Lee and Phil Brown went close and while such cracks are normally concreted over by the parsimonious Arsenal back four, on this occasion these chances were the prelude to a goal.
McGinlay, whose turns had already bewildered Adams twice, caused downright confusion with his pass to Jason McAteer that gave him free passage through the Gunners rearguard in the 31st minute.
The Bolton midfield player advanced into the area and slipped the ball under Seaman.
The Arsenal attack had flickered only briefly, most notably when Ian Wright had possession. The England striker almost created a riposte from the Premiership side when his run gave Paul Merson the room to fire a left-foot shot that clipped the outside of a post.
That apart, the most disconcerting moment for Bolton while Arsenal had been in possession had been provided by a man flying a motorised parachute contraption who had appeared over the ground while Merson had waited to take a corner.
The aerial irritant buzzed Burnden Park twice before disappearing into the wet Lancashire night.
Arsenal, too, took flight in the 51st minute. They had monopolised possession from the interval and this dominance became something more tangible when Merson cut in from the right. His shot hit a defender's foot and looped to Wright who beat Aidan Davison from close range.
Bolton had reason to feel aggrieved and they had even more so when Arsenal made it 2-1 after 65 minutes. Nigel Winterburn took a free-kick on the right and Adams, with a surprising amount of space, put a glancing header into the corner of the net.
Arsenal do not often concede two goals and it appeared Bolton's chance had gone. Andy Walker, coming in for his first senior match in 10 months after a knee injury, was denied by a combination of Lee Dixon and Seaman.
But in the 86th minute Tony Ellis crossed from the left, McGinlay heeded across the goal and Coyle scored at the far post.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Davison; Brown, Winstanley, Stubbs, Phillips; Lee, Kelly, McAteer, Patterson (Walker, 75); McGinlay, Coyle. Substitutes not used: Burke, Hoult (gk).
Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn; Parlour (Smith, 87), Hillier, Keown, Merson; Wright, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Jensen, Miller (gk).
Referee: T Holbrook (Walsall; B Priest, h/t, Halesowen).
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