As impact substitutions go, Ivan Klasnic's contribution to this controversial encounter will take some eclipsing. Even a club as familiar with sendings off as Bolton Wanderers took time to digest how he managed to cram a winning goal, two yellow cards and a red one into six minutes of stoppage time.
The Croat's contribution leaves a quandary for his manager, Owen Coyle, with the player still awaiting his first Premier League start of the season despite also scoring a Carling Cup winner at Southampton. "Ivan is frustrated and I am frustrated that we can't get him in the team more and we had a chat before the West Brom game," the Bolton manager said. "That has been down to the form of Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies but he is helping keep them at the top of their form and I'm gutted that we now lose him for the Wigan game."
Coyle might find himself short of allies in his assertion that Klasnic (pictured), having just set up victory with a swivel-hipped left-foot finish, was unlucky to walk after pushing a retaliatory hand into Dean Whitehead's throat and then leading with his arm in a challenge with Rory Delap.
A leap into seventh place above a Stoke City side who deserved better is a worthy effort in the circumstances and Bolton are undeniably becoming easier on the eye. Belated though this first home win of the season was, they are unbeaten at the Reebok since early April, so will not be nervous about Liverpool coming here next.
What should not be overlooked, though, is the fortune they had. Stoke hit the woodwork for the ninth time this season when a curling free-kick from the impressive Jermaine Pennant bounced back into play off the bar and they should have had a penalty for Zat Knight's goalkeeper-style first-half leap and palm away in a congested area.
The Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, saw the irony of the winning goal coming from a long throw, delivered by Gretar Steinsson. He was also unhappy with goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen's work in the build up, although he had few complaints with his team's general performance. It seemed their capacity for coming good in the second half of games was showing itself again when Delap equalised Lee Chung-yong's well-taken opener, Whitehead then being denied by Jussi Jaaskelainen following a fine move on the hour. But Ricardo Fuller's heavy fall and recurrence of a shoulder problem meant the Stoke striker's participation was even more shorter-lived than Klasnic's. This really was a mixed day for substitutes.
Shots on target Bolton 6 Stoke 3. Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire). Att 22,975. Man of the match Pennant. Match rating 7/10Reuse content