On of the joys of supporting a Premiership team from outside of the top half dozen is the prospect of sooner or later being involved in a relegation battle.Football should be dramatic and memorable and if your team isn't up to providing the excitement whilst winning silverware then the only other option is to be scrapping for their lives in early May.This year's basement contest has seen perennial strugglers Wigan string together a phenomenal late season burst to counter their winless midterm run and they are now long odds to fall into the Championship,while surprise package Villa had enough early points to also stumble over the line.
With Wolves already gone and Blackburn accounting for little more than one percent of the survival market,the final drop spot is between Bolton and QPR and the final day rollercoaster ride came a week early on Sunday,as first Bolton and then QPR appeared to be in prime position to avoid demotion.
The penultimate weekend saw QPR and Bolton facing very similar challenges with home games against Stoke and managerless WBA respectively.The R's final weekend match away at Champions elect Man City is partly counterbalanced by their vastly superior goal difference and Bolton travel to the Potteries to face a Stoke side who can be notoriously generous towards needy causes.
On Sunday,Bolton split the deadlock both at the Reebok and in their head to head with QPR by taking the lead over WBA and their chances of survival climbed to over 60%.Both games saw no further goals until Bolton doubled their lead in the 72nd minute,but their two goal advantage was quickly reduced by Brunt's strike 4 minutes later.However,time was now as much a factor as the size of Bolton's lead and as each game entered the final minutes,their chances of survival was in the region of 90%,while QPR's languished at barely 10%.
Everything changed as Cisse's 89th minute game breaker against Stoke saw Rangers' survival odds rocket to just below 50% and Bolton's in turn plummet downwards to meet it.But worse was to follow for the Trotters as they then fell to a late WBA equaliser and after a day that had promised much they enter the final week with barely a 25% chance of playing Premiership football in 2012/13.