Monday, March 06, 2006

Trotting forward

Newcastle 3 - 1 Bolton

Three goals saw us briefly move in to the top half of the table, and helped us to see off Fat Sam's Bolton on Saturday.

In a game which kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday, it was a real return to old fashioned values - commitment, teamwork and a little flair that helped us keep Glenn Roeder's unbeaten run intact. Parker and Emre in particular shone in the midfield, although both N'Zogbia and Solano played crucial roles as we did enough to win a game which had Souness remained in charge would no doubt have seen us sink closer to the relegation mire. Thankfully we no longer live in such dark times.

Instead, we looked sharp going forward, with Emre hitting a cracking twenty yard shot which crashed off the post in the opening few minutes, only for Robbie Elliott to guide a ball on to our own post, blocking Bolton's only attack of the first half.

However, whilst honours may have been even in the opening fifteen minutes, our greater sense of collective effort was starting to pay dividends further forward, with Babayaro and N'Zogbia linking up well down the left to tee up Shola, only for him to completely miss the ball. Whilst his miss bought groans, ten seconds later Shola had got himself back on the ball and was fouled by Tal Ben Haim. Solano stepped up, and curled the ball over the wall and past the dive of Jaaskelainen to make it three goals in two games for everyone's favourite Peruvian trumpet-playing loverat.

Just before half time, more good work by N'Zogbia saw him cross to the far post, and Shearer powered a header goalwards. Jaaskelainen got a hand to it, but only succeeded in palming the ball into his own net, giving us a two goal half-time lead.

Into the second half, and we again continued to outplay a distinctly lacklustre Bolton, and after Bolton had cleared a corner, the ball eventually found its way to Emre, whose miscued shot fell to the unmarked Ameobi, who succeeded in making contact with the ball, firing it into the corner to give us a three-nil lead.

Bolton then woke up, and started to play, forcing a corner down in the Strawberry corner of the ground. With our defence still finding its way back into position (and Scott Parker seemed particularly culpable here - standing hands on hips, back to the ball when the corner was taken short) Bolton were able to cross to the back post, and from the header back across the goal Kevin Davies forced the ball home to give Bolton a brief glimmer of hope.

Now whilst we might previously have looked jittery at this point, we were able to stand firm and see the game out. Giannakoupoulos forced the ball into the net, but despite his protestations to the contrary he clearly handled the ball in the build up, and the goal was rightly ruled out and with it went Bolton's hopes of a point.

With Gary Lineker mischievously suggesting us as late European challengers, fears of relegation now seem to have well and truly lifted. Forthcoming fixtures against Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs will test just how far Glenn Roeder has taken us, but we can at least go into them believing that we can get something from each of the games.

A Bolton fan's perspective: Tails Of Bolton

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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