Classy Klasnic sees off Potters

Comeback kings City looked to have salvaged a point when Rory Delap

ended a 21-month goal drought in the 48th minute to cancel out Lee

Chung-yong’s opener midway through the first half. But from Gretar

Steinsson’s deep throw into the area in the second minute of injury

time, 77th-minute substitute Ivan Klasnic fired home the winner.

Klasnic, though, went from hero to villain moments later as he was

dismissed for two bookable offences in a matter of minutes after

his goal. It was a chaotic, turbulent finish to a game that also

saw rival fans clash in one corner of the Reebok Stadium before

police and stewards intervened. Prior to that, and for two of the

top flight’s lesser lights, it was an entertaining affair. From

both teams, up until the rashness of the final minutes, there was a

desire to play football, to search for an opening rather than pump

aimless long balls forward in the hope of catching a break. Ahead

of Lee’s opener, Stoke looked a side on the rise after a run of

three wins and a draw from their previous four league matches.

Their play exuded the greater degree of confidence, and arguably

they should have taken a 15th-minute lead from an inswinging corner

by Matthew Etherington. But despite piercing Bolton’s six-yard box,

neither Robert Huth nor Abdoulaye Faye were able to apply the

finishing touch required at the far post. Three minutes later, as a

gap opened up in Bolton’s defence, winger Etherington was left

smacking his forehead in disgust with himself as a low 18-yard shot

lacked power and was safely gathered by Jussi Jaaskelainen, who

should have been more severely tested. As the midway point of the

half approached Bolton had conjured little in response, so it is

fair to say Lee’s strike came out of the blue. After playing a

one-two with skipper Kevin Davies, Lee was lucky to see a follow-up

attempted pass ricochet off Faye into his path. The Korean needed

no second invitation as he quickly pounced on the loose ball to

stab a first-time effort past Sorensen from 19 yards. Not for the

first time this season it left Stoke being asked to come from

behind, and they were almost level just after the half-hour only

for Jermaine Pennant’s dipping 25-yard free-kick to strike the top

of the crossbar. At that stage, with chances flowing at both ends,

Fabrice Muamba should have made it 2-0, only for his first-time

drive to narrowly clear the bar after he had been teed up by

Davies. After referee Peter Walton ignored furious penalty appeals

from Stoke as a loose ball had rolled over the arm of an unaware

Zat Knight, Bolton again wasted the chance to increase their lead.

In injury time Thomas Sorensen initially produced a superb

one-handed save in turning aside a rasping drive from Martin

Petrov. From the ensuing corner to the far post, Davies missed a

sitter as he steered a header wide when the ball should have been

nestling in the bottom corner of the net. It proved costly because

within three minutes of the restart Stoke were level. From

Etherington’s corner, Huth’s knockdown arrived at the feet of Delap

who volleyed home from five yards. Just before the hour Stoke

almost completed another comeback as Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters

combined to set up Dean Whitehead for a first-time effort which

Jaaskelainen saved with his legs. Wanderers, though, were far from

out of the picture as Davies was again the supplier shortly

afterwards with a flick-on from a long ball for Johan Elmander,

whose steered effort through the six-yard box was inches beyond the

far post. After a looping Danny Collins header from a deep Pennant

cross also failed to fall inside the far post moments later, the

game appeared set to peter out. But a rash of substitutions,

including Klasnic, proved pivotal for Bolton as the striker pounced

to steal the points and end a run of three successive home draws,

only to blot his copybook with his red card after an altercation

with Whitehead and a foul on Huth.