Having drawn the first leg 2-2 at the Reebok Stadium, Ipswich and Bolton headed back to Portman Road for a chance to reach the Championship play-off final.
Ipswich Town 5 Bolton Wanderers 3
Bolton took the lead and stunned the home crowd, Dean Holdsworth tapping home after Tractor Boys’ goalkeeper Richard Wright had flapped badly at a cross.
However, the hosts came right back into the game, were awarded the first of the night’s penalties. Jim Magilton received a quick pass inside the box and was bundled over by goalscorer Holdsworth. Magilton himself stepped up and banged it in at Jussi Jaaskelainen’s right.
The game remained equal for only 21 minutes as Holdsworth stepped up and converted a wonderful free-kick for his second of the night. The mood at Portman Road sank once again, as memories of previous play-offs flooded through the minds of the home faithful.
Referee Barry Knight awarded Town their second penalty. A solid challenge from Paul Ritchie saw Marcus Stewart and the ball both fly into the air, though Knight adjudged that Stewart had been made contact with first and pointed to the spot.
This time the Bolton protests were far more vociferous with several of their players protesting aggresively. Chief amongst these was Dean Holdsworth who had only just been booked for a dreadful challenge on Magilton. After an ensuing melee, Magilton had his spot-kick saved by Jaaskelainen.
Not to be down hearted, Town equalised through Magilton’s second of the night. The midfielder received the ball from Johnson and dribbled past a couple of defenders, before lashing the ball past the Finnish goalkeeper Jaaskelainen.
Again parity was not to last. Within a minute Allan Johnston had taken advantage of Wright being off his line with a shot which flew over the keeper’s head and in to the net. The heads dropped on the terraces again with flashbacks of Sheffield United and Charlton in previous seasons.
With just 50 seconds on the clock Ipswich got their third. Tony Mowbray nodded the ball down and Magilton smashed home for his third of the game.
The first sending off of the night came when Mike Whitlow pulled back Marcus Stewart as the former Huddersfield striker was through on goal. The final whistle blew with the home fans feeling that the game was now theirs for the taking.
As the final whistle blew and the game headed for extra-time, Bolton looked clearly deflated by the late strike, while Town look enthusiastic and ready to finish the job.
And within minutes the blues had a third penalty, again one with which Bolton could have had no argument. David Johnson was wrestled to the ground by Paul Ritchie when the ball had already run away from him.
Ipswich fan site TWTD recall the moment.
“This time it was Jamie Clapham who walked up to take it. The full-back slammed it down the middle as Jaaskelainen dived to his left. Town were in front for the first time and it looked like there was no way back for Bolton.”
Robbie Elliott was then shown a red card for Bolton when he went in hard on Martijn Reuser, sending him flying into the crowd. The former Newcastle man was shown a second yellow.
Martijn Reuser sealed the deal on the break having been slotted through on goal; The Dutchman holding his nerve and hammering home from ten yards.
The Tractor Boys had booked a spot at Wembley on a dramatic, emotional rollercoaster of a night. George Burley’s men would go on to win the play-off final 4-2 against Barnsley, and win promotion to the Premier League. Allardyce’s Bolton would win the 2001 play-offs.
Ipswich: R. Wright, Croft, Brown, Mowbray, Venus, Clapham, Holland, Magilton, Scowcroft, Johnson, Stewart. Subs: Naylor, Reuser, Branagan, Thetis, Wilnis.
Goals: Magilton (18 pen, 49, 90), Clapham (94 pen), Reuser (109).
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Bergsson, Fish, Ritchie, Whitlow, Johansen, Jensen, Elliott, Warhurst, Johnston, Holdsworth. Subs: Banks, Hansen, Phillips, Farrelly, Passi.
Goals: Holdsworth 6, 39, Johnston 50.
Red Cards: Whitlow (90), Elliott (97).
What they said
After the game, Bolton boss Sam Allardyce blasted the referee.
“He could have done untold damage to this football club that will be felt over the next two years,” he said.
“You just don’t know how long it might take us to get into a position like this again.
“He should be made accountable for what he’s done. Words just can’t describe how I feel. I don’t think he should ever be allowed to referee a game again.
“I can’t believe what happened to us out there because of an official. I’m not saying all three penalties – but at least one of them was wrong. But he’s given three decisions, booked 10 of our players and sent two of them off and given nothing against the opposition.”