Bolton Wanderers 4-3 Newcastle United
Okocha 5, Gardner 9, Ricketts 45, 63 Shearer 8 79, Ameobi 71
Jaaskelainen, Whitlow, Barness, Bergsson, Charlton, Gardner, Frandsen, Okocha, Djorkaeff, Pedersen, Ricketts
Given, Griffin, O'Brien. Caldwell, Hughes, Solano, Dyer, Speed, Robert, Ameobi, Shearer
Campo, Tofting, Facey (Pedersen 76), Nolan (Djorkaeff 66), Poole
Jenas (Solano 72), Bellamy, Harper, Lua Lua (Ameobi 72), Dabizas
Yellow : Frandsen 86
Yellow : Shearer 89, Lua Lua 89
JayJay Okocha's Goal
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Ricardo Gardner's Goal
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Michael Rickett's Goal
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Michael Rickett's Goal
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Now THIS was a game of football..

After some fairly horrid games recently, the Reebok was finally treated to an open game full of attacking football and some fairly dodgy defending. Nevertheless Bolton scored three excellent goals (out of four) and Newcastle had acracker of their own top provide some consolation.

The game opened with three goals in the first ten minutes, something I can't remember seeing at Bolton in a long time. The first goal came when Ricardo Gardner robbed Dyer outside the Newcastle area and played the ball square to JayJay Okocha who thumped the ball past Given for the opening goal. Only a couple of minutes later Dyer got his own back when he got away from Gardner onto Solano's through ball to slide the ball through to Shearer whose shot squirmed past Jaaskelainen into the net. The best of the three was to come soon after. Wide on the right wing, Gardner whacked a curling shot past Given from fully 35 yards. I was only certain it had gone in when people around me started celebrating. Frankly I couldn't believe my eyes.

Of course things couldn't continue at that pace and the game calmed down a bit after that. Both defenses looked somewhat shakey, Given particularly having to save from hjeaders from Bergsson and Ricketts. Then on half time a Djorkaeff free kick was cleared to Frandsen outside the area. He volleyed a looping cross back in and Ricketts leapt clear of O'Brien to head powerfully into the top of the goal. A last chance was heraded over by Newcastle and the whistle blew for the break. Bolton were going into the break 3-1 up against a team in the second pahse of the Champions League. Who'd have expected that?

If the first half was unbelievable, it was matched by the second. Shearer was trying the trick of standing in front of the keeper that got Jussi booked at St JKames's last year, but ref Uriah Rennie was having none of it and ordered Shearer to give ground to cheers from the crowd. Newcastle pressed for a lifeline but a poor bacckpass by Gary Speed put Ricketts through and he finished with the sort of coolness that had been mising for some time. Bolton were 4-1 up! However ther Reebok this season has not been a place for easy wins in general, and so it proved. Ameobi had been denied by Jaaskelainen after a superb turn and run earlier on and got away from his marker to the edge of the box. This time the keeper got no luck as his shot deflected off Dyer inside the box and rolled in with Jussi helpless to stop it. Sir Bobby Robson threw on Jenas and Lua Lua and Newcastle went all out at the Bolton goal. Shearer gained a free kick - his usual method of getting a free kick for a push in the back when it was arguably backing in on hios part - and after a toiuch from Robert blasted the ball (Sky clocked it at over 75MPH) past Jaaskelainen. 4-3 and the upset was on, although Bolton were dangerous ont he break as well and Facey was unlucky to see the ball roll agonisingly past the goal after creating a chance at a tight angle. Bolton played out the remaining time as best they could, Okocha particularly using all his ball-juggling skills to keep it away from desperate Newcastle players. The whisle blew without any extra added time (the announcerrs barbed announcement of 'a minimum of three minutes of added time' not really managing to relieve the tension) and the crowd gave the teams a standing ovation off the pitch after a thrilling game of football.

So three points (just), two goals for an apparently rejuventated Ricketts and two crackers from Okocha and Gardner. That and losses or draws for relegation rivals meant it was pretty much as good a dayas you could possibgly have asked for.