Ferdinand stays fresh to rescue point for Leicester

Bolton Wanderers 2 Leicester City 2
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The Independent Football

Leicester City, who have squandered so many points in the final minutes of matches this season, grabbed a valuable one in injury time at Bolton thanks to a Les Ferdinand header.

The veteran substitute met Muzzy Izzet's corner in the 91st minute and Ricardo Gardner, on Bolton's line, could only help it into the net to give Leicester a draw that lifted them out of the relegation places and which they had gone some way to deserving on the basis of their first-half performance.

"If you are out of the bottom three over Christmas it gives everyone a boost. It will lift our morale and put pressure on other teams," said the Leicester manager, Micky Adams, who explained that he had left the 37-year-old Ferdinand on the bench for most of the game after he had played the full 90 minutes against Newcastle. "If you'd seen him training yesterday you'd have left him on the bench as well," he said.

Amid sporadic hailstorms Bolton showed some good early touches, typified by the way Youri Djorkaeff got in a cross which Danny Coyne, making his first Premiership start, spilled in the direction of Stylianos Giannakopoulos. Coyne just managed to recover in time to make the save.

After 10 minutes, however, Bolton had a bigger let off. Ivan Campo, displaying his combination of the nonchalant and the negligent, gave the ball away to Marcus Bent and then fouled him. From 30 yards out, Ben Thatcher took a huge run-up and hit a shot to match, one which smashed into the post.

There was no such reprieve for Bolton after 17 minutes. Jussi Jaaskelainen started the rot with a terrible clearance, Izzet beat Campo to the ball and Bent curled it into the net from 25 yards.

Kevin Nolan replied for Bolton almost immediately with a long-range effort that flashed wide, but generally speaking the Leicester defence, which included Matt Heath, was not being asked to do a great deal.

Bolton's equaliser, after 34 minutes, required considerable assistance from that defence. Djorkaeff put in a dangerous free-kick and Bruno N'Gotty was credited with the goal for getting a final touch, but contributions from both Heath and Thatcher helped things along.

Leicester could have been back in the lead by half-time when Simon Charlton miscued to Bent and Jaaskelainen had to throw himself to block the shot.

Bolton were perhaps fortunate to be level, but Campo made up for his slackness in the first half in the early minutes of the second. A lovely pass to Nicky Hunt announced the arrival of the other side of his footballing personality and he then figured in both the build-up and the finish as Bolton took the lead.

Thatcher was booked for a foul on the Spaniard Campo and Djorkaeff retrieved the free-kick on the far side of the penalty area. When he pulled it back, Nolan missed his kick but Campo did not, hammering the ball in from the edge of the box.

Bolton threatened to take control after that, with Kevin Davies denied a penalty when he went tumbling, Jay-Jay Okocha failing to match a scintillating run with as good a finish and Coyne saving one-handed from Giannakopoulos.

The substitute Henrik Pedersen prodded one just wide and Okocha's swinging free-kick demanded a save from Coyne. Having failed to kill the game off, Bolton went into panic mode in the final minutes.

They had been reduced to chaos once by Ferdinand on the ground before he struck in the air to draw the match.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, denied that it was a case of his team falling back into bad old ways. "It is disappointing not to see a game out, but it's only the second time we've done that this season," he said, insisting that Davies' penalty claim had been legitimate.

Goals: Bent (18) 0-1; N'Gotty (35) 1-1; Campo (54) 2-1; Ferdinand (90) 2-2.

Bolton Wanderers (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen 4; Hunt 6, N'Gotty 5, Charlton 5, Gardner 6 (Pedersen 5, 75); Nolan 4, Campo 5 Okocha 5; Giannakopoulos 6, Davies 5, Djorkaeff 7. Substitutes not used: Poole, Jardel, Ba, Thome.

Leicester City (4-4-2): Coyne 5; Curtis 4, Heath 5, Scimeca 5, Thatcher 6; Scowcroft 5, Izzet 7, Davidson 6, Hignett 4 (Brooker 71, 5); Bent 6 (Stewart, 83), Dickov 5 (Ferdinand 6, 70). Substitutes not used: McKinlay, Impey.

Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire) 5.

Bookings: Bolton: Campo; Leicester: Izzet, Davidson, Thatcher.

Man of the match: Djorkaeff.

Attendance: 28,353.

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