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Mixu and McAteer Look Back on 1995 Playoff Final

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Normally on a Bank Holiday Monday we’d be watching a playoff final, that isn’t the case this year.

To fill the void Sky had a programme, My Playoff Final looking at some of the best over the years. No such show would be complete without a look back at the 1995 Division 1 final, when Bolton came back spectacularly beat Reading in extra time. Mixu Paatelainen and Jason McAteer both gave their reflections on the day.

“We probably started the game a little too confident and cocky really, and before we knew it, we were 2-0 down,” McAteer recollects.

“1-0 down was never a problem, we always had the ability to get back into the game. 2-0 down, you might be asking yourselves questions in that kind of environment. I remember giving away the penalty thinking ‘if they score, I don’t think we’re going to come back from this, we’ll just have to give it our all and see how we are.”

Reading didn’t score from that penalty, McAteer obviously describing that as the turning point.

Paatelainen shared what Bruce Rioch said at the break, “He said ‘Keep playing the way you’re playing, Branny’s save is the sign.’ He kept saying that many, many times.”

“When we got the first goal, I thought we’d get the second,” McAteer said on the comeback. Owen Coyle got one back in the 75th minute, before Fabian de Freitas would score the first of his brace to take things to extra time.

“Fabian de Freitas was an off the cuff player. He was one of them, Fab, it was hit and miss. That day, he was certainly a hit.”

Paatelainen spoke about the goal he scored that day, to put us 3-2 up: “I got my head to the ball, and headed it to the corner. I couldn’t believe it, what a feeling. Fantastic. I remember running away, shivers down my spine. A packed Wembley, how much it meant. I remember the last few minutes Reading bombarded our box. We were on the ropes big time, but thankfully we held on and won the game 4-3. The feeling afterwards was unbelievable, you can’t describe it.”

McAteer rated that goal highly. “It’s one of the great goals that Bolton have ever scored. The passes that were involved, the one touch, the movement.”.

He put the win up there with other big moments in his career, such as Ireland’s playoff win in Iran to take them to the 2002 World Cup, and his goal for Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford. “You can’t put into words what those emotions are like.”

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