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Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Sunday, 1 March 2009

Bolton 1-0 Newcastle

By Aimee Lewis

Ricardo Gardner
Gardner celebrates scoring his third goal of the season

Bolton manager Gary Megson's new contract award was rewarded with a nervy victory over lowly Newcastle to ease the Trotters' relegations fears.

Newcastle, who remain in a scrap for survival, were undone by a sublime Ricardo Gardner top-corner shot.

Bolton's Johan Elmander missed a host of chances and the home side also had a decent penalty appeal turned down.

Newcastle, too, were denied a penalty even though Fabricio Coloccini's shot appeared to hit Jlloyd Samuel's arm.

Bolton's third victory in four games moves Megson's men to the top half of the table and with a visit to Stoke to come on Wednesday, this could be the week when the Trotters make huge strides to secure their top-flight status.

Bolton still in transition - Megson

The outlook is rather more gloomy for Newcastle, who are just two points above the relegation zone with a midweek game against the Premier League leaders Manchester United looming at St James' Park.

Megson's astute introduction of Gardner at the start of the second half proved decisive, helping lift the game from its torpor, with the Jamaican also grabbing the decisive goal.

But it was a match of missed chances, with the best first-half scoring opportunities falling to Elmander, who lacked the composure befitting of a £10m striker.

The Sweden international bulldozed his way through two Newcastle players and his acute shot from the byeline looked to be creeping in until Jose Enrique calmly cleared the ball off the line.

Elmander then somehow toe-poked over the crossbar from six yards when he had just the goalkeeper to beat.


To conclude his hat-trick of misses, the striker scuffed a fine chance after he was put through by a flick-on from the indefatigable Kevin Davies.

Newcastle improved as the half-time whistle approached but they were clearly missing the energy of Kevin Nolan, who missed out on a return to his old stomping ground due to suspension.

Obafemi Martins forced Jussi Jaaskelainen into a fine save when he leapt unmarked to meet a Ryan Taylor corner, only to then catch the game's profligate mood when he headed wide from close range.

On came Gardner and within a minute he evaded the Newcastle defence to race on to a Matt Taylor pass and, from the inside right, hit the top-left corner for his third goal of the season.

We had the better chances - Hughton

The visitors lacked imagination and found it increasingly difficult to penetrate a Bolton side who retreated further and further towards their own goal as the match wore on.

With 15 minutes remaining, Newcastle were justifiably aggrieved when they were denied a penalty for an apparent Samuel handball, but on reflection an equaliser would have been an injustice.

Bolton manager Gary Megson:
"From West Brom at the bottom to eighth from top, no-one can say 'we're going to be ok next year'.

"We're in the same boat as we were before Newcastle but it's so tight.

"We are in transition. I've never been at a club where so much is needed at such a short space of time."

Newcastle assistant coach Chris Hughton:
"On the balance of play, on chances, I think we were the better side.

"We just had that lax period early in the second half and they scored.

"We've got to bounce back and there was enough in the performance to say that we can. We'll look forward to the next game and try to get something from it."

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Mark Davies, McCann, Muamba (Gardner 46), Taylor, Kevin Davies, Elmander (Smolarek 78).
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Puygrenier, Makukula, Shittu, Basham.

Booked: Taylor, Smolarek.

Goals: Gardner 47.

Newcastle: Harper, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Bassong, Jose Enrique, Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor, Butt (Geremi 66), Lovenkrands, Ameobi, Martins (Viduka 78).
Subs Not Used: Forster, Cacapa, Smith, Edgar, Carroll.

Booked: Butt, Gutierrez, Ryan Taylor.

Att: 20,763

Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Bolton's Kevin Davies 7.67 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Megson agrees new Bolton contract
01 Mar 09 |  Bolton
Live text - Sunday's football
01 Mar 09 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
01 Mar 09 |  Football

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