Eagles arrives on wing and a prayer for Coyle

Bolton Wanderers 5 Stoke City 0

The Reebok Stadium

The 5-0 defeat in last season's Wembley FA Cup semi-final to Stoke had hung around the neck of the Bolton manager Owen Coyle, albatross-like, for seven months yet even the keenest student of football's vagaries could not have predicted this outcome.

Two goals each from Chris Eagles, unstoppable on the Bolton wing, and Ivan Klasnic, plus a controversial opening effort from Kevin Davies, brought Bolton some much-needed revenge and ended a depressing run of 13 defeats in the 16 league games since that shoddy display in April.

Perhaps it was the apparent magnitude of the victory that had Coyle looking for reasons beyond the corporeal to explain events. "Last night when I went to mass, the local priest was brilliant and said 'Let's pray for the Wanderers'," smiled Coyle. "So I knew He was onside as well."

God found a willing accomplice in Stoke's under-performing players, none more than Bosnian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who virtually gifted the home side a two-goal start. The first, after just 94 seconds, came when Howard Webb judged Glenn Whelan had deliberately passed the ball back to Begovic – who then allowed Klasnic to take the ball and a quick free-kick, for Davies to convert into an empty net, to much Stoke anger.

Credit the City manager Tony Pulis, therefore, for shunning the easy option of blaming Webb, or his players' midweek round trip to Israel for the Europa League, and instead focusing on their limp effort.

"Forget the first goal, we still had over 90 minutes to put it right and we just didn't compete," he said. "If you put together a list of the worst three or four games in the eight and a half years I have managed this club, this drops into the worst performances.

"I understand excuses. We played Monday, Thursday, Sunday. It took us eight hours to get from Stoke to our hotel in Tel Aviv this week and nine and a half hours to get back.

"But I'm not going to use that. That doesn't explain why we didn't tackle, challenge and run around."

Initially Stoke's response was spirited, though Peter Crouch miskicked badly in front of goal from Jermaine Pennant's sixth-minute centre. But on 23 minutes Begovic, under pressure from Klasnic, made a weak clearance of a Robert Huth back-pass and the ball fell to Eagles on the left-hand corner of the Stoke box. With the keeper back-pedalling furiously, the winger struck a superb shot into the bottom corner of the vacant net.

Game over. Huth was at fault for the third goal, on 61 minutes, his lame clearance presenting the ball to Eagles who linked with Paul Robinson, the full-back in turn squaring for Klasnic who swung a magnificent left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

On 73 minutes Kevin Davies and Klasnic again linked well, the Croatian producing a delightful touch that played in Eagles on goal after 73 minutes. The former Manchester United winger advanced into the area and showed great composure before lifting the ball over on-rushing Begovic.

Eagles and Klasnic combined again on 81 minutes when the winger's corner was nodded on powerfully by defender David Wheater and Klasnic, no more than six yards out, directed in his second goal with his head.

"There is no getting away from the level of performance and how crucial this win was," said a relieved Coyle. "When you have made a slow start, as we have, every game becomes bigger."

Substitutes: Bolton Wanderers Tuncay (Klasnic, 85), Pratley (Reo-Coker,89), Knight (Riley, 90). Stoke City Higginbotham 5 (Wilkinson, 68), Jones 5 (Pennant, 69), Whitehead 5 (Whelan, 69). Booked: Bolton None. Stoke Walters. Man of the match Klasnic.

Match rating 7/10.

Possession Bolton 60% Stoke 40%.

Attempts on target Bolton 16 Stoke 6.

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire). Attendance 20,028.

News
David Beckham
peopleFootballer joins No campaign
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Life and Style
Jourdan Dunn gave TopShop’s Unique show some added glamour at London Fashion Week
fashion week
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories