Relegation came with a bitter taste for Owen Coyle as Bolton's 11-year stay in the Barclays Premier League came to an end following a 2-2 draw at Stoke.
Things were going Bolton's way at half-time, with goals from Mark Davies and Kevin Davies cancelling out an opener from Jon Walters. But the latter equalised from the penalty spot, while Manchester City's dramatic turnaround against QPR meant Bolton's fate was only back in their own hands when the final whistle had blown.
Coyle reserved much of his anger for referee Chris Foy, who allowed Walters' 13th-minute opener to stand despite the striker appearing to head the ball out of Adam Bogdan's hands, and the Bolton boss also felt the goalkeeper should not have been penalised for felling Crouch to concede the penalty 13 minutes from time. He said: "It's hard to take."
He added: "We had a slow start in the game but I think the events that happened, and I know people will talk about sour grapes, but how can that first goal be allowed to stand when Adam Bogdan had clearly got the ball in his hands?
"Jonathan Walters is a good player but he sticks his head and his elbow halfway up Adam's arm, I find it incredible. I've been in to see the officials - I've done that a lot this season and I can't say you come out any the wiser.
"But we bounced back, got 2-1 in front, had chances to make it 3-1. Crouch has a great chance and Adam makes a great save, but in the aftermath Crouch has knocked it by Adam and it's actually Crouch who's clambered into Adam.
"I don't think we've come out on top of the decisions, but we've picked ourselves up again. Lee Chung-yong had a good chance to get that third goal and then Tim Ream's header in the last minute, where the keeper's made a great save. And that's the margins in this league. If that goes in, we're still in the Premier League."
Stoke certainly played their part in shaping the relegation battle after losing to QPR last week, and boss Tony Pulis admitted the nature of Bolton's goals left him thinking they would stay up.
Pulis said: "We have a responsibility as a football club, and I think we did at QPR last week, to do the best we possibly can. Irrespective of whether you're playing against friends or whether you've got a soft spot for a team, you have to do your best. And I thought in the first 20 or 25 minutes we were really on top.
"I have to say I came in the dressing room at half-time and I thought it was going to be Bolton's day. They were two bizarre goals. But we kept at it second half and the draw wasn't good enough for Bolton. I'm disappointed for Owen and Bolton but it's a reminder to everybody in this league that you have to keep pushing on because it's such a tough league."