Aruna Dindane demonstrated why Portsmouth were so anxious to complete delicate international financial negotiations with his French employers this week, his two goals earning a deserved point at the Reebok but also offering his beleaguered club hope for their FA Cup final date with Chelsea.
The on-loan Ivory Coast forward had been kept out of the Portsmouth line-up since the FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham and out of League service since the middle of last month as one more appearance for Avram Grant's relegated side would have activated a permanent transfer and, with it, a £4 million fee to Lens.
However, Portsmouth were able to pay £200,000 to Lens to circumvent the clause in his loan deal, freeing Dindane to turn in a commanding performance that saw his team come from two goals behind and leave Bolton still needing one point to be certain of Premier League survival.
It was an impressive performance from Pompey, save for sporadic defensive lapses, and one which allowed Grant to repeat his plea for the club to be allowed into next season's Europa League, a move that is currently blocked by the FA.
"Those players and those fans are keeping the tradition going," he said. "They deserve a reward and someone at the FA or Premier League needs to give them a reward and not make them suffer because of the mistakes of others. I accept everything else but not playing in Europe I can't accept. This is a Cinderella story and that is what English football is about, not just the rich clubs. I just hope somebody will listen." They appear unlikely to do so, although with Dindane in the line-up, perhaps this "Cinderella story" – Ports-mouth's season more resembles a grotesque Grimm fairy tale – may have a happy ending at Wembley.
Chelsea will need to defend better than Bolton, who watched in the 54th minute as Dindane exchanged passes with Frédéric Piquionne and met the return to finish from 12 yards. In the 67th minute, Dindane secured the point as John Utaka capitalised on Gary Cahill's slip and crossed from the byline.
The goals cancelled out two in two minutes from Bolton. In the 26th minute Ivan Klasnic glanced in a Jack Wilshere cross before Kevin Davies (pictured) doubled the lead from Vladimir Weiss's well-timed pass.
There were numerous other chances, with both sides hitting the woodwork – Tommy Smith from 20 yards in the first half and Davies with a 91st- minute header – although the entertainment was wasted on Bolton's manager, Owen Coyle.
"We've let ourselves down in the second half and I won't accept it; I won't be happy just to stay in this League," said Coyle. "I want players with the same mentality and focus as myself, who want to be the best they can be."
Referee: H Webb
Man of the match: Dindane
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content