With the game tied at 1-1 Stoke hadn’t really troubled the Trotters goal for a long time which led to the inevitable substitution of a striker for Coyle’s super sub Klasnic. Many would presume that the Croat’s introduction on 77 minutes came about because of his ability to make an impact on the later stages of the game, which he did. There was an air of frustration around the Reebok, despite a dominant first-half which involved Chung Yong-Lee finishing well on 22 minutes to put the home side ahead. Although there was a great amount of pressure put on the White’s defence right after the goal, the storm had calmed as the game approached half-time and Bolton had started to squander their chances to go to up at the break. It was then up to Stoke’s Rory Delap to make them pay by firing in the equializer just three minutes after play had resumed. The goal revitalised the away side as well as giving Bolton something to think about as both teams sprung into action to look for a winner. Danny Collins had to clear from the six yard box as a Martin Petrov cross deflected off Robert Huth’s leg, whilst Johan Elmander slotted agonisingly wide from inside the box. The chances then dried out as the game wore on as the pace of the game took its toll on the players. Then Klasnic came on.
Seemingly content with being used as an impact sub due to Bolton’s insistence that he signed for the club on a permanent deal over summer, every ounce of his energy has been on show at the tail ends of most of the White’s matches this season. Although not succeeding in getting on the end of the numerous crosses being pumped into the box, Klasnic’s magic moment came from a Gretar Steinsson throw which Stoke failed to clear and the striker was able to turn superbly before smashing in the winner. Clearly fired up by the goal his first booking came for an altercation with Dean Whitehead involving a raised hand, with a foul on Huth near the Bolton box leading to his dismissal with his second yellow card in two minutes.
Ever the optimist, Coyle had no bad words for his man of the moment despite the sending-off potentially meaning he will be without the Croatian international for up to three matches. The Bolton boss said “We know the qualities Ivan has and I thought it was a finish of the highest calibre. He has had to be patient because of the outstanding play of Johan and Kevin but he showed that quality today.” Many fans will wonder whether Coyle planned on appealing against referee Peter Walton’s decision to send Klasnic off, and a hint was dropped by the Scot after the game: “The first yellow I can accept, but the second he’s jumped early for the ball, with no intent to harm.” Bolton appealed against captain Gary Cahill’s red card against Arsenal earlier in the season, so Klasnic shouldn’t be ruling himself of contention for the next few games just yet.