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Bolton could face probe over off-field incidents following last-gasp defeat

Bolton Wanderers v Exeter City – Sky Bet League Two – University of Bolton Stadium
(Image credit: Tim Markland)

Bolton could face a Football League probe after disturbing scenes at the end of the club’s 2-1 home defeat to Exeter, a result which left Wanderers’ bid for automatic promotion on hold.

Officials and stewards were unable to prevent several groups of fans getting into the ground within minutes of Pierce Sweeney’s stoppage-time winner for Exeter.

Dozens of police outside the University of Bolton Stadium also had to deal with other flash points before the estimated 500 fans began to disperse.

With calm eventually restored, both clubs could digest the significance of the result to their respective promotion hopes.

Bolton’s fate is still in their own hands as they head to Crawley on the final weekend of the season, sitting third and one point in front of fourth-placed Morecambe.

Play-off chasing Exeter, meanwhile, host Barrow lying one point adrift of seventh-placed Forest Green but with a superior goal difference.

Despite the obvious chaotic scenes away from the game, Bolton manager Ian Evatt declined to offer an opinion on the off-field incidents.

“I am not really aware of what went on so I am not going to comment,” he said.

Evatt, however, was less reticent to talk about his side’s capitulation after Gethin Jones shot the Trotters into a 15th-minute lead – a goal marked by home fans outside the ground letting off several fireworks.

Randell Williams levelled four minutes into the second half before Sweeney headed home Exeter’s winner five minutes into stoppage time, sparking wild celebrations among the visiting players and ugly scenes among Bolton fans.

“We had too many below par, too many went into their shells in the second half,” Evatt said.

“We looked out on our feet and that was the emotion of the game, the expectancy.

“We got the early goal but we stopped doing what was getting us to those positions. Whether it was fear I don’t know.

“We ducked it second half with too many players hiding and not wanting the ball in tight areas, too many players just happy to hang on to what we had.

“We don’t stop attacking, we don’t stop showing for the ball. But we still have a chance to win on Saturday that gets us promoted. That is a huge positive.”

Grecians chief Matt Taylor revealed Sweeney’s winner from substitute Jack Sparkes’ free-kick had cost him money.

“I said if we scored a set-piece and we won I would reward them,” explained Taylor. “They didn’t take a penny off me during our team drills on the last day of training.

“So, I said double or quits and I’d give them £20 a man. I have a wedding to pay for so the missus won’t be too pleased,” smiled Taylor.

“This win has given us an opportunity next week though the emotion at the end feels it is more than three points.

“This team has been through a lot this season but that was a big moment for us.”

He added: “We were right up before the game and started well. We started pretty well but we derailed a little bit.

“We have got some young boys and inexperienced players. But if we want to be successful we have got to take our game to another level and that’s what we will be concentrating on next week.

“However, as this game wore on we grew in confidence and belief.”