Football

Bolton Wanderers Vs Portsmouth, Sat 24 Apr 2010

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Owen Coyle is aiming to achieve his goal on Saturday of keeping Bolton in the Barclays Premier League for a 10th successive season.

Victory against Portsmouth at the Reebok Stadium will see the club remain among the elite for another year, irrespective of other results.

Coyle said: "We have a great opportunity to secure our status. It is in our hands.

"The only target I set when I came in was for Bolton to be out of the bottom three come the end of the season."

Coyle replaced Gary Megson as manager in January after moving from Burnley, who are now in the thick of the relegation battle.

It was a popular appointment given the Glasgow-born boss played for Bolton in the 1990s when they enjoyed some cup success.

Under his stewardship the team have taken 17 points from 17 games and lie 14th in the table.

Coyle's record is almost identical to his predecessor. Megson's Bolton amassed 18 points from 18 games and were in 18th position when his time ended.

Coyle, however, insists his side's results do not reflect some good performances against strong opponents.

The late victory against Stoke last weekend ended a run of four straight defeats against Everton, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea and gave Bolton some breathing space.

Coyle said: "It was down to fine margins and we still retained that belief. We are worthy of more points than we are sitting with. But that is the nature of the Premier League. It is unforgiving.

"It really was a pivotal weekend and all credit to the players. Everyone raised their level of performance in the second half at Stoke. We have to replicate that display on Saturday.

"We have very proud players, very good players. They put themselves under their own pressure as they want to be the best they can be. That's what I like about them."

Portsmouth manager Avram Grant has expressed his dismay at the decision taken by the Football Association and Premier League to prevent them from playing in Europe next season.

Pompey, who were in line to qualify for Europe by dint of reaching the FA Cup final against Champions League-bound Chelsea, have been told their financial problems mean they will not be allowed to apply for a UEFA licence which would enable them to compete in the Europa League.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's league trip to Bolton, Grant said: "I don't know what to say. We are trying to do our job in football - I think everybody knows that it's difficult but we did it.

"It's good for the Premier League that a team like us didn't break. We have shown spirit, we are always fighting and always done our best in every situation.

"I don't understand why there are so many decisions off the pitch.

"We earned our position in Europe because we did a good job. It was an unbelievable job in very, very difficult circumstances.

"We need to be in Europe. We have done everything to deserve to be in Europe according to the rules. But now there is another decision off the pitch. "

Meanwhile, Hayden Mullins has promised Bolton's relegation rivals the Trotters will not be given an easy ride by a Portsmouth side already resigned to life in the Coca-Cola Championship.

Portsmouth will be forced to include the likes of teenage left-back Lenny Sowah, defender Joel Ward and midfielder Matt Ritchie in their squad because of a spate of injuries, but Mullins insists the competition for a place in Pompey's FA Cup final line-up makes his side dangerous opponents.

The former West Ham midfielder said: "Bolton is a hard game but we have to be positive.

"There are a lot of players trying to impress to get in the team for the FA Cup final so whatever team goes out we will try and win.

"It is important for the likes of Lenny, Joel and Matt. This club will be looking for the likes of these players to bounce back in the Championship next season.

"It is important for those guys and it is good circumstances for those young lads to stake their claim for next year."

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Topics:
Portsmouth
Football
Bolton Wanderers
Premier League

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