Tranmere Rovers 1 Bolton Wanderers 1

Last updated : 03 January 2004 By Mark Heys
An inexperienced Bolton Wanderers side earned an FA Cup Replay thanks to a goal ten minutes from time by substitute Kevin Nolan against a spirited Tranmere Rovers side who on reflection deserved to go through.

A replay was the last thing Wanderers needed as they now face a backlog of fixtures in January which could overstrech the squad significantly for the Premiership campaign. Bolton manager Sam Allardyce made nine changes from the side which drew with Leicester City in the Premiership last weekend. Charlie Comyn-Platt was given his full debut in the heart of the three man Bolton defence whilst Danny Livesey, Jeff Smith and Delroy Facey made their first full starts of the season. New signing Donovan Ricketts and Academy youngsters Ricardo Vaz-Te and Jason Talbot where named amongst the substitutes.

Facey could have given the Trotters the lead on three minutes when he hit the post following a good run down the right hand side of the field. Simon Haworth could have twice given Rovers the lead but he was thwarted on each occasion by the Bolton goalkeeper Kevin Poole.

Haworth then hit the top of the crossbar for Rovers on the quarter hour mark when he headed a Gareth Roberts cross goalwards and the Welsh striker seemed to be the cheif tormenter of Wanderers during the afternoon's play.

Nicky Hunt, playing in an unusual midfield role, fired over for Wanderers from close range and a couple of minutes later Stelios Giannakopoulos and Ibrahim Ba combined but the former French international Ba saw his effort blocked by Bolton-born defender Graham Allen in the Tranmere defence.

Bolton defender Anthony Barness then fired over the bar for the away side following a corner from Giannakopoulos to take the sides into the half time interval all square.

The side from the Wirrall then came out the stronger in the second half to test the young Wanderers and it was no surprise when dangerman Haworth gave them the lead on 51 minutes. The former Wigan Athletic and Coventry City striker was first to react when a shot by Tranmere captain Mickey Mellon came back off the post, on balance it was fair to say the home side deserved their lead.

Bolton introduced Ricardo Vaz-Te in place of the ineffective Jeff Smith and the young Portuguese ace seemed to grab his chance well as he showed a combination of pace and awareness and can be satisfied with his breif flirtation of first team football so far.

However Wanderers where still under the cosh and keeper Poole had to be alert after two headers, firstly by defender Allen and then by Haworth could have increased the home sides lead.

On 77 minutes hard working midfielder Iain Hume could have wrapped the game up for the Merseysiders but he took too long over a one on one situation with Poole and that miss proved costly for Brian Little's men over the next few minutes.

A minute later substitute Nolan showed some fancy footwork for Bolton and he curled an excellent finish around Rovers keeper John Achterberg to pull Wanderers level in the game and earn a replay at the Reebok Stadium.

Giannakopoulos then had a chance to win it for Bolton in stoppage time but it was Tranmere keeper Achterberg who saved smartly from the Greek international to deny Wanderers an undeserved win.