Even though Fleetwood Town fell to a 4-2 defeat to Bolton Wanderers on the final day of the season, they kept their Sky Bet League One status thanks to results elsewhere.
After a superb start, the Cod Army took an early lead through Barry Baggley whose pinpoint effort picked out the top right corner. Just before the break, Dion Charles equalised for Bolton when he calmly slotted past Alex Cairns.
The home side started the second half brightly and their efforts paid off. Declan John’s strike from the edge of the area flew into the back of the net. With 10 minutes to go, Ged Garner met Danny Andrew’s corner and headed home at the far post.
In the 88th minute, Charles doubled his tally but not in typical fashion. He tackled the ball in the centre of the park, and it somehow flew all the way into the Fleetwood goal. In the fifth minute of added time, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson added Bolton’s fourth.
Fleetwood came close inside the opening 10 minutes when Danny Andrew’s long throw was flicked on towards the back post towards Baggley, whose header was superbly saved by goalkeeper James Trafford at full stretch.
Baggley was at the heart of the action once again with 17 minutes on the clock when he received the ball from Cian Hayes just 20 yards from goal. The midfielder took one touch, knocking the ball past his man before magnificently curling the ball into the top right corner to give Town the lead.
Andrew’s long throw continued to cause trouble for the home side. This time, the ball made its way to Callum Camps on the edge of the area, but his dipping volley was just too high.
At the other end, Kieran Sadlier picked up the ball on the right flank. Under pressure from the onrushing Fleetwood defence, he fired a shot across the face of goal, however, it never looked like troubling Cairns.
In the 37th minute, Bolton levelled the score through Charles. The forward latched onto a defensive error before slotting the ball through the legs of Cairns.
Just before the break, Wanderers came close to taking the lead when Declan John picked out Amadou Bakayoko in the penalty area, but his first-time shot flew just wide of the near post.
The first real chance of the second half led to a goal for the hosts. John tried his luck from the edge of the area, and it paid off and his shot flew into the bottom right corner – a slight deflection taking it past Cairns.
A long diagonal ball from a deep position found the feet of Hayes. After one touch, he struck the ball on the half volley but saw his effort saved by Trafford. Almost immediately, the home side responded and Gethin Jones called Cairns into action, but the Fleetwood keeper made a smart save from a tight angle.
Town came close to finding the net when Andrew’s teasing ball into the box was only half-cleared by the Bolton defence towards the back post. Garner was first to the loose ball and his volley was parried behind for a corner by the goalkeeper.
The resulting corner led to a Fleetwood equaliser. Andrew and Garner linked up again when the full back’s deep cross picked up the forward who peeled away from his man to nod home. For a moment it looked like the ball was cleared off the line by Trafford, but the linesman awarded the goal.
With less than five minutes of play, Charles scored one of the most bizarre goals ever. After going in for a slide tackle with Camps, the ball somehow looped up into the air, over Cairns, and into the back of the net from close to 45 yards.
The Cod Army reacted and pushed for a goal. Andrew’s unleashed an effort from the edge of the area which struck the crossbar and bounced over.
In added time, Bodavarsson found space in the area and drilled into the bottom corner to double Bolton’s deficit.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Andrew (C), Clarke (Jules 76’), Camps, Pilkington, Garner, Baggley (Batty 65’), Nsiala, Boyle (Morris 90’), Hayes, Macadam.
Unused subs: O’Hara (GK), Harrop, Butterworth, Bird.
Bolton XI: Trafford (GK), Jones (C), John, Johnston, Charles, Bakayoko (Kachunga 66’), Aimson, Morley, Afolayan, Sadlier (Bodvarsson 66’), Thomason (Baptiste 88’).
Unused subs: Dixon (GK), Amaechi, Gordon, Conway.