Parker pesters anxious Bolton

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The Independent Online
Bolton Wanderers 0 Leicester City 0

A season is a long time in football and Bolton Wanderers, Coca-Cola Cup finalists last spring, are confronting the prospect of an autumn exit this time to compound the anxieties of their Premiership plight.

Much of the vibrant endeavour which characterised their Wembley crusade was re-enacted at Burnden Park last night, but the poise, and nearly the finish, were produced by the First Division leaders.

Bolton may be ill at ease in the top people's league yet they have long relished the role of underdog in Cup competition and it seemed almost like old times as they pounded at a Leicester team seemingly destined to pass them on the League staircase again next May.

Leicester have built their game around the composed and visionary Garry Parker, and for lengthy periods of the first half he was stifled by Bolton's energy. Gradually, the midfield player exerted his influence, opening avenues which more accomplished strikers might have exploited.

Defeat, however, would have been harsh on Bolton and they will go into the replay confident in the knowledge that Leicester are currently more potent on their travels than at home.

Mark McGhee's side are undefeated away so far and the confidence of that form had to survive torrid spells. Just when it appeared Bolton had run out of ideas and self-belief, David Lee, the substitute, arrived to regenerate the momentum.

For all that, Bolton's goalkeeper, Keith Branagan, made two critical saves, while Iwan Roberts was denied by Stephen McAnespie's excellent intervention and the striker's header came back off a post.

Roberts' muscular contribution provided Leicester with their most effective response to Bolton's early assaults. Mixu Paatelainen evidently had too much time to consider his options from Alan Thompson's nod-on, and ultimately contrived to miss the target by some distance. Thompson, too, wasted an opportunity, failing to complete the necessary spin and delivery.

The threats from Roberts shifted the balance of the tie and Parker emerged in the second half as the most dominant figure. A move he instigated created an opening for Mark Blake but the merest deflection was enough to steer the goal-bound raking shot off target.

Bolton were fortunate not to go behind when their defence hesitated but David Lowe's miscue spared them any embarrassment. Lowe was more efficient as a provider, feeding Mick Whitlow, who brought Branagan to a lunging save.

Alan Stubbs relieved the pressure for Bolton, striding forward from his post in front of the back four to shoot powerfully from 30 yards but straight at Kevin Poole. Enter Lee, and fresh hope for the home team. He had a shot blocked, headed just wide and caused the confusion which led to another shot from Richard Sneekes' shot taking another deflection over the goal.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Branagan; McAnespie, Fairclough, Bergsson, Phillips; Stubbs; Sneekes, Patterson (Lee, 63), Thompson; McGinlay, Paatelainen (De Freitas, 86). Substitute not used: Davison (gk).

Leicester City (5-3-1-1): Poole; Grayson, Carey, Rolling, Hill, Whitlow; Taylor, Parker, Blake; Lowe; Roberts. Substitutes not used: Lawrence, Kalac (gk), Robins.

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).

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