Bolton manager Owen Coyle was left to rue a poor performance as his team slumped to a 5-0 loss against Stoke City in the FA Cup semi-final.
The Wanderers conceded three times in the opening half an hour at Wembley on Sunday before a second-half double from Jonathan Walters sealed their fate.
Coyle was upset about his team’s output on the big stage as defensive errors cost them any hope of progressing to the final against a ‘terrific’ Stoke.
“There is no getting away from it – it was a below-par performance,” Coyle said.
“When you come to this stage and this arena and you are out performed by going toe to toe and you are beaten by the better team then no problem.”
“But for Bolton Wanderers, we under performed today.”
“I thought we were the architects of our own downfall at times, but I don’t want to take anything away from Stoke.”
Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth both beat Jussi Jaaskelainen from range before Kenwyne Jones struck to end the game as a contest after 30 minutes.
Walters joined in the procession in the second-half with two fine finishes.
Coyle said he too was prepared to accept criticism for the way his team performed.
“A few players didn’t perform to their best but I am the manager charged with the job of looking out for the team,” Coyle said.
“Nice things have been said along the way this season when we have played well but you have to take the rough when you don’t perform.”
“As a manager you are open for criticism and I have to accept that.”
Potters boss Tony Pulis hailed his team’s improvement as they helped the club qualify for their first ever FA Cup final, to be played against Manchester City on May 14.
“We knew we would be criticised for certain things we do and we don’t do. But if you look at the team today compared to the team that started for us in the Premier League, we have improved,” Pulis said.
“We have more quality players and we are more expansive, but we had to do it gently because we haven’t got the finances other clubs have got.”
“The big aim is to do it over a period of time. We’ve done it for two and a half years and we have got into a final.”
Pulis said he had been eager to mark tightly against Bolton and free up space for wingers Etherington and Jermaine Pennant, insisting it worked to plan in the victory.
“We are very pleased. We worked very hard all week on nullifying what Bolton do well,” Pulis said.
“Bolton score a lot of goals from second phase football of Kevin Davies and we made sure we dealt with that.”
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