Walker's own goal gifts Bolton a point

Leicester City 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Ian Walker, the former England goalkeeper who put a pitch invader on his backside in Leicester City's previous match at the Walkers Stadium, was again the centre of unwanted attention when his farcical own goal saw Bolton Wanderers cancel out Les Ferdinand's ninth goal of the season.

Ferdinand, the 37-year-old striker who is in his farewell campaign, had pounced in the first half to give Leicester hope of a first win in 11 league matches. Within minutes, however, Walker inexplicably let the ball squirm from his grasp to gift the Carling Cup finalists a point on an evening when three would have taken them into the top six.

Walker later claimed, somewhat unconvincingly, that he was distracted during by the visitors' exploitation of the uncertainty surrounding the offside rule. Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, sent players into what were formerly offside positions at free-kicks, knowing they are currently considered "passive" during the so-called "first phase".

"I don't like what I did tonight to be honest," Allardyce said. "It has shown that the ruling is open to interpretation. All we've done is try to take full advantage of it, but I think we should go back to the old offside law. I don't think what Fifa has done adds anything to the game, but it's there and we have to use it.

"Soon we're going to get all 22 players in the six-yard box when a free-kick comes in, which isn't in the spirit."

Micky Adams, the Leicester manager, belatedly attempted to mimic Bolton's tactic but without success. He shared Allardyce's dislike of the change, saying: "How can anyone say players are not interfering with play when they are running across the keeper's eyeline?"

Adams felt sympathy with Walker though, saying: "Ian has kept us in enough games in the past, so I'm not going to start criticising him now."

Leicester seized a 16th-minute lead when Riccardo Scimeca's cross from the right picked out Ferdinand at the far post. He put in a header which seemed to have crossed the line before Jussi Jaaskelainen fumbled the ball back into play. Ferdinand thumped it back past the keeper in a manner that brooked no argument.

Bolton equalised in the 32nd minute with a goal that will cause Walker acute embarrassment whenever Nick Hancock or Sue Barker asks their panellists what happened next. Kevin Davies, lunging for Djorkaeff's free-kick, had risen and turned his back on goal after the keeper made a smothering save. Somehow, Walker managed to set the ball in motion again as he stirred, knocking it gently, tantalisingly, into the goal.

Steve Guppy and Lilian Nalis both came close as Leicester, with Ferdinand leading the way, strove to regain the initiative. Bolton are still bereft of Jay-Jay Okocha, and while they looked dangerous at set-pieces, they had Jaaskelainen to thank for preserving parity. His best save came after Steve Guppy's low, angled corner found Paul Dickov lurking with intent. The Finn, sprawling by his near post, prevented the shot sneaking in, thereby ensuring that Walker's folly, not to mention Fifa's, would take the headlines.

Leicester (4-4-2): Walker 3; Scimeca 6, Dabizas 6, Taggart 6, Thatcher 6; Bent 3 (Scowcroft 38, 6), Freund 6, Nalis 5 (Davidson 76), Guppy 4 (Stewart 83); Ferdinand 7, Dickov 6. Substitutes not used: Coyne, Sinclair.

Bolton (4-1-3-2): Jaaskelainen 6; Barness 5, N'Gotty 5, Thome 6, Charlton 6; Campo 6; Frandsen 6, Nolan 4, Pedersen 4; Davies 6, Djorkaeff 6 (Moreno 81). Substitutes not used: Poole, Ba, Otsemobor, Vaz Te.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire) 5.

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