Despite taking the best part of fifteen minutes to find any sort of rhythm, we managed to produce enough moments of quality and sufficient pressure to overcome a fairly resilient Bolton side.
Our first goal came after Bowyer beat two players in the centre of the park, before knocking the ball out to Stephen Carr. Our right back then charged down the touchline before floating a right wing cross into the area for Bowyer to run on to – and plant a header firmly into the Leazes net.
However we once again failed to protect a lead, and with Titus off the pitch to have his finger seen to, the defence lost some of their organisation, and with Babayaro guilty of ball watching, Stelios Giannakopoulos was allowed enough time to equalise for the visitors as Gary Speed header fell his way.
Half time came, and the second half saw us push Bolton back and take a fairly firm grip on proceedings. Within minutes of the restart Dyer charged up the middle only to be cynically brought down by Fernando Hierro on the edge of the box. Whilst players and fans bayed for the red card, referee Steve Dunn showed astonishing leniency in giving out a yellow card. Laurent Robert curling the resulting free kick just wide of the right hand post.
However, Dyer was not to be denied, and following a block on a Shearer shot he belted the ball into the top corner of the Gallowgate goal and ran away, fist pumping in celebration.
From there it was a case of keeping Bolton pegged back in their own half, and not allowing them to get back into the game. Which we did with relatively few alarm bells being sounded.
Strong performances in midfield from Robert and Dyer bought good responses from the crowd, and Boumsong again looked tidy at the back. The three points moved us up to eleventh in the table, one point behind Villa and with a game in hand.
Whilst I still feel that we may yet come a cropper against a better side, and also that our confidence is still fairly fragile, I can't knock four wins out of four and only one defeat in 2005. At long last those players who for long periods have looked like they didn't care now appear to be showing the sort of commitment that Shearer has displayed throughout his career. If they can keep it up, then we can continue to focus on the teams above us rather than those behind, and start to look forward to games with a renewed level of anticipation.
Other reports: NUFC.com, BBC, Guardian