The season may only be a few weeks old, but already it is turning into a hard struggle for the Bolton manager Gary Megson . Booed off at half and full-time, it took a late penalty from Matt Taylor to rescue a point in front of disgruntled supporters here.
It was the second successive week Stoke have deserved more from a match having conceded a last-minute winner to Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium last weekend. Once again, they probably deserved more for their efforts, only to be frustrated by a Bolton side delivering a similar approach to Premier League football based on a strong work ethic and disciplined organisation.
"It was important we bounced back after the disappointment of the Chelsea game and to come here and concede a late penalty was very disappointing,"said the Stoke manager Tony Pulis. "When it is late in the game people get tired and take chances, but I thought we were good value for our 1-0 lead and if we had won the game I don't think anyone could have complained."
Stoke always showed more invention, particularly during a first half best forgotten by both sides. It took two bookings for diving, one of Ricardo Fuller as he attempted to win a penalty after a challenge fromGavin McCann, and another for Kevin Davies, unluckily cautioned after a clash with Abdoulaye Faye, to produce any talking point of note.
Dismayed by a run of five successive home matches without a victory stretching back to a win over Middlesbrough last April, Bolton's fans reacted to the goalless first half by turning on Megson, who reacted by bringing on Ricardo Gardner and Croatian international Ivan Klasnic and immediately it gave them greater attacking options.
Despite their improvement after the interval, it was Stoke who claimed the breakthrough with Kitson running on to a back header from Fuller, turning inside Sam Ricketts and placing his shot into the far corner just moments after Davies had driven a similar chance at the other end wide. Thomas Sorensen saved brilliantly from Klasnic from close range, while Zac Knight headed over from the resultant corner as Bolton pushed for an equaliser against a Stoke defence marshalled superbly by Ryan Shawcross.
Just as Flourent Malouda had struck in injury time a week earlier, Stoke again fell to a late goal, but this time contributed to their own downfall with Danny Collins lunging at Ricketts and earning a penalty, which was converted confidently by Taylor.
"You will not see worse defending at any level of football and people should have to do a lot more to score against you, but I thought a point was the least we deserved after the way we played in the second half," said Megson.