As well-worked a team goal as the Premier League will see all season ensured that both sides would take something away from an epic Lancashire derby.
Blackpool were on their way to another result that would underline their ability to compete at this level when Bolton produced a wonderfully incisive attack with less than two minutes to play.
It weighed in at eight passes, but the business end was Kevin Davies' to Johan Elmander, whose back-heel found Ivan Klasnic, who set up Mark Davies. His close-range finish was an appropriate equaliser, because he had been outstanding.
Owen Coyle has not made many changes of late, but Stuart Holden's thigh injury gave Bolton's "other" Davies his chance. "I thought he was brilliant," Coyle said. "He's such a gifted young player and we've got very high hopes for him. His problem has been that we've not been able to get him into the team."
Martin Petrov has been equally frustrated of late, but he made a telling contribution with the first Bolton goal off the bench as part of a series of changes as they chased the game. "I was prepared to lose 4- or 5-nil to try to win it," Coyle said. His reward was a draw that keeps Wanderers in fifth place.
The same brand of positive thinking radiated out of the tangerine camp. "I would have paid to watch that," said their manager, Ian Holloway. "Our fans were fantastic. If I were them, I'd be singing as well, even though we lost two late goals."
Thanks to Wembley 1953 and All That, this remains one of the game's more evocative fixtures, although it was 1964 when these two clubs last met in the top flight. The way that both have exceeded all expectations so far this season added to the sense of anticipation. It did not disappoint.
From the very start, Bolton played like a side with their confidence sky-high and it was in the first minute that one of the successes of their recent run of form, Matt Taylor, had a meaty free-kick saved. Another of their big improvers, Elmander, then set up Kevin Davies and the Wanderers' captain should have done better than a low shot which Richard Kingson pushed around his post.
Facing a battering, Blackpool retained the essential optimism of their approach, with their captain, Charlie Adam, hitting a couple of visionary through-balls, the better of which almost connected with Luke Varney. For all that, it was against the run of play when Blackpool took the lead after 28 minutes. Bolton allowed DJ Campbell too much room on the edge of the penalty area. His shot was deflected wide by Zat Knight and, from Elliot Grandin's corner, Ian Evatt got in an oblique glancing header at the near post that finished in the top corner by the far post.
Bolton continued to create chances after that, but could have been two down, if Adam's inspired 40-yarder had not drifted just over.
Early in the second half, they were two down, their defensive frailties exposed once again by Grandin's precise corner. Varney's header had crossed the line before Lee Chung-Yong hooked the ball away.
Bolton made three quick substitutions to try to rescue the game, but could have been right out of it if Campbell had converted either of his chances at the same stage.
Instead, they got a lifeline when one of their replacements, the former Manchester City winger Petrov, was teed up on the edge of the area by Mark Davies' typically forceful run and found the top corner with an unanswerable left-footer.
That set up a cavalry charge that eventually brought Bolton level and Kevin Davies and Petrov both had chances to win it in extra-time. It truly was a case of that old cliché, with both sides richly deserving something from this exhilarating affair.
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: M Davies
Match rating: 9/10Reuse content