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This Season 
 Match Report 2001-02 - Bolton (h) 

Once more we ham things up with a dodgy Trotters reference - a Mega Deep Fill Smoked Ham, Cheese & Pickle.

(click on food for details)

Sat 2nd February 2002, 3.00pm.

Venue: St. James' Park 

Conditions: Exhilarating


Newcastle United 3 - 2 Bolton


19 mins A personal nightmare for Jamie McClen who dallied on the edge of our penalty area. Gardner nipped the ball off his toes and powered into the area to hit a shot across Given and in off the far post.  0-1

23 mins Keeper Jaaskelainen held onto the ball for nine seconds and was penalised by ref Elleray. Bolton claim he was impeded by Shearer but Al never got closer than three or four yards. A harsh decision, perhaps, but if you're going to have a rule.... Solano touched the ball to Shearer who thumped it through a gap in the wall and into the corner. 1-1

34 mins The ball was pinging around our area and when it finally looked like Distin had cleared, it fell to the right boot of Southall who hit an unstoppable drive into the top right hand corner.  1-2

43 mins Shearer was involved in the middle of the Bolton half and when Hughes shaped to cross, Al made a late run to spectacularly dive and head the ball past Jaaskelainen.  2-2

Half time: Newcastle 2 Bolton 2

79 mins Hughes was once again the provider, played in by Solano, with a perfect cross for Bellamy to nod the ball inside the far post.  3-2

Full time: Newcastle 3 Bolton 2

We Said

Uncle Bobby said: 

"They were a difficult side. I don't think we gave away two goals, I think they were good enough to score two goals against us and if they play like that they have a very good chance of staying in the Premiership.

"Their second goal was a great strike. If we had scored the same sort of goal I would have been doing somersaults.

"It was never easy and it was never over. It was a massive victory for us and I'm delighted with my team. We're not going to win all our games until the end of the season. Southampton took two points off Arsenal and Bolton could have taken two points off us as well, but we kept going with the tenacity we have in the side.

"We keep doing that, falling behind and then going on to win, but I don't want to go through that too many times before the end of the season."

"I think it will be tight right up until the end of the season. The top five teams will be there right to the end. I still think all the teams at the top will lose a couple of games before the season ends.

"All the games are important, people want us to win the whole time, but you can't do that. We've got ability and determination, you cannot have one without the other and as long as we keep both we are in with a chance.

"That builds up confidence and we didn't lose confidence against Bolton.

"Our two strikers have done well for us yet again and got three goals between them. Alan (Shearer) couldn't get the ball quick enough for the free-kick and he struck it well so it was a good decision he took it.

"I thought the referee was right to award the free-kick as well, their keeper held on to it and held on to it which you just cannot do."

About his starting eleven: "Of course it was hard to leave Robbie Elliott out. Just like it was hard to leave Clarence Acuna out.

"But I cannot play with 12 or 13 men and I had to make a management decision. My job is to win football matches for Newcastle United and how could I make any changes from a side which won 3-1 at Tottenham?"

"To be honest, Robbie has had a bit of muscular problem similar to the sort Kieron Dyer had a year ago so I left him on the bench on Saturday."

"Sylvain did very well at Spurs. He did not look out of place at left-back and I wanted another look at him.

"He did well again on Saturday and Bobic obviously did not fancy playing against him. Distin is great in the air and has terrific pace."

"Laurent's little boy has not been too well and I allowed him to go back to France.

"That's one of the reasons why he was on the bench at White Hart Lane. But he trained hard on Thursday and Friday and he has responded to the way we are training him and working him hard.

"He is now learning that the game over here is played two ways. Going forward and tracking back."

They Said

Sam Allardyce said 

"To say I'm gutted is an understatement."

"I have not seen one of those decisions in any game in any division all season and I probably won't see one again.

"Although we had timed it after the incident at nine seconds, Jussi's saying he's not being allowed to distribute the ball how he wanted, which was to kick it down the pitch.

"It appears David Elleray is saying he could throw it out but all options should be open to him, and it should have been a free-kick against Shearer."

"In the end it was our own fault. We got back to 2-1 and then could have made it 3-1 but Shay Given made a magnificent save.

"It was a crucial point and if you don't take advantage of your chances you get punished, and we were."

Defender Mike Whitlow said: "Shearer's clever. He's been in the game a long time and he's played the referee a treat and got a just reward for being clever."

"The gaffer's said it to us sometimes: 'Learn! Be clever!' Shearer did that and we've got punished and it's not nice. Jussi's even got booked for running after the ref."

Match Stats

Three points....


The journey to Spurs for the previous match had been complete with a heavy dollop of pessimism, that had arrived with news of Dyer’s latest misfortune. With such fatalism banished by the rousing second half performance that had brought yet another unexpected victory, it was in a far more buoyant mood that your correspondent arrived at the ground on Saturday. 

As the players warmed up beneath blue skies on a pitch newly transformed by the completion of its relaying, my thoughts turned to our sometime French enigma with both the deportment of a highly strung racehorse, and the similarly erratic form of some that I’ve backed over the years. 

With the creative nous of Dyer absent for a prolonged period, surely now was the time for Robert to start delivering on a more consistent basis. The weather was more to his liking, his fitness worries were behind him, the pitch was now more conducive to thoroughbred displays, and the opposition were exactly the kind he’d given his most complete performances against earlier in the season. 

In short, if this setting was not to his liking then what exactly was the point in him being here I wondered. A brisk business like opening five minutes seemed to suggest that United were not about to be troubled unduly by a Bolton side who had been drawn almost magnetically to the bottom three in the last couple of months. 

Indeed the early game plan of ‘big Sam’ seemed to have been drawn from his own playing career as many robust challenges were made, in order to ‘let them know they’re in a game tha knows!’ 

Refereeing in the typically vain fashion we’ve come to expect, the ever pompous Mr.Elleray ignored each and every one of these fouls. Despite employing Distin’s left wing surges as the most favoured method of opening the opposition up, a home goal still felt likely at any time. 

The ever willing McClen continues to look slightly off the pace at times though, and when caught in possession suddenly, the game took on a different complexion as Bolton went ahead. Immediately the route to goal for us looked totally blocked with a static United content to pass around the ten man Bolton defence in the hope of something magically appearing. 

When it did appear it was in the shape of the same man who had tilted the game in our favour at the Reebok by getting sent off. Just like Mark Bosnich before him, another goalkeeper appeared improbably spooked by the Shearer stare and ten yards worth of proximity to the great man. Ones-apiece and my relaxed mood reappeared. 

Unfortunately our defence felt similarly and some casual defending coupled with a genuinely astonishing strike from Bolton soon saw us behind again. At 1-2 down Given saved an afternoon for the umpteenth time this season with an intelligent stop, but even then a dawdling McClen nearly pondered long enough to finish off our chances of three points. Yet again I struggled to see how the tactics we were employing were going to bear fruit, with the approach play reflecting the total sloth of Speed who was playing like a man with ten broken toes. 

The equaliser before half time brought as much relief as the cheers for Sunderland’s half time score brought utter bewilderment. Clearly Newcastle fans are not interested in a genuine title race with Mancunians or in hitting top spot again. No, as long as Sunderland lose then all is well. 

Let the big lads have all the cups as usual while we engage in irrelevant (for the purposes of Championship success please note) back and forth with some slackjaws from down the A19 that no one else cares about.

The second half saw a totally different United with Bobby having clearly told the players to a) give the ball to Robert at every opportunity, and b) take players on at speed rather than trying to pass the ball to death on the edge of the box. Distin and Hughes continued to be very agile in the respect, but suddenly Bellamy and Robert were looking lively too. Bolton quickly realised that their best chance had gone, and seemed to wilt as United pressed in unrelenting fashion. 

After a quiet first half, as at Leicester, Robert came to life in the second half, passing players at will and sending in cross after teasing cross. He should have grabbed the winner himself when he met a cross from the right perfectly, and from ten yards out found his power and swerve to no avail as he hit the keeper. However his performance hinted at better things to come from him, even if only in the second halves of games. 

On a separate note, and with the average age of the team declining with each passing week, special mention must be made of the string pulling contribution to this victory that was made by one Nolberto Solano, who played with the authority of what he now is; a senior professional at the peak of career. The winning goal that was threatened for the entire second half was created by his clever overhead lob and this was certainly as mature and pivotal display as he has produced in a black ‘n’ white shirt. 

Relief and delight at the end then , of an at times typically NUFC rollercoaster ride of a game. 

One cannot help though noting the contrast with the last time we came from behind to defeat Bolton whist in the upper regions of the league. Whereas that 2-1 victory in January 96 had looked laboured and edgy, hinting at troubles that were still ahead of us, this time saw a more relaxed and confident Newcastle who yet again refused to be bowed by being behind and who looked like they were genuinely enjoying the experience of their involvement at the top of the table. 

Almost as if they’ve decided to forget all about the pressure, that we know only too well from bitter bitter experience can engulf a side at this time of year, and instead just concentrating on giving their all, sticking together and seeing where this ride will take us…are we having fun yet ? Oh yes. 

Many thanks to the Marco Toni Brothers (purveyors of fine coffee to the masses) for this waffle, required in the absence of Niall (family commitments) and Biffa (sick bed/floor) from the game on Saturday.

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Page last updated 03 February, 2013