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Match Report: Newcastle United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Tuesday 10th April 2012
A wonder goal by the brilliant Hatem Ben Arfa grabbed all three points for Newcastle against a hard working Bolton Wanderers at the Sports Direct Arena.

The diminutive Frenchman ran through the entire Bolton team, a la Lionel Messi, to score a wonderful opening goal 20 minutes from time, making Bolton pay the price for a series of missed opportunities early in the second half.

Bolton made several changes to the side that had been so dire in their 3-0 home defeat to Fulham on Saturday, with Kevin Davies replacing the goal-shy David Ngog, Chris Eagles coming in for the tired Ryo Miyaichi and Gretar Steinsson replacing Marcos Alonso, who was given a roasting by Damien Duff in the previous match.

A repeat of the Fulham match looked a real likelihood in the early stages as Newcastle dominated the visitors, but were unable to convert their threat into meaningful goalscoring opportunities. The Premier League's hottest property, Papiss Cisse, was a threat all match, pulling Bolton's centre-halves all over the pitch and linking up threateningly with his midfield. But Bolton managed to subdue the home side and the game went into snooze mode until half-time in a dull and dreary stalemate.

But things positively exploded into life in the second period, with Bolton much the more threatening side. Eagles collected the ball on the right edge of the Newcastle penalty area, before jinking past a couple of tackles to get one-on-one with Tim Krul. But the slick winger's composure failed him, not for the first time, as he hit a tame effort straight at the Dutch goalkeeper when a shot to either side would have resulted in a goal.

Bolton kept the momentum going and an excellent, threatening cross from Martin Petrov fizzed across the goalmouth and agonisingly missed the toe of the outstretched Darren Pratley with the goal gaping. The visitors again went close when Kevin Davies' floated cross from the right dropped to feet of his namesake Mark, but the midfielder was unable to get enough purchase on his shot and Krul easily gathered his attempt.

But the game hinged on a moment of absolute brilliance from Ben Arfa. The winger collected the ball inside his own half, spun past a Bolton midfielder and burst fully 70 yards through the centre of the pitch. He beat a series of flailing Bolton tackles with ease, split through David Wheater and Tim Ream before poking the ball home past a helpless Adam Bogdan.

Ben Arfa has been superb for Newcastle in recent weeks, and is so often the spark behind their attacks - but this goal was the icing on the cake. His acceleration and direct approach saw Bolton's defenders, who admittedly could have defended the situation better, not able to get close to him.

From that moment on the game seemed beyond the visitors, and their misery was compounded ten minutes later when Cisse continued his ridiculous scoring streak. Shola Ameobi's cross from the right found Cisse well placed to steer home from close range, for his tenth goal in eight matches.

However, the Senegalese striker was at least a yard offside in yet another example of shocking decisions by Premier League linesmen. There's no excuse for getting these decisions wrong - the linesman was well up with play and should have clearly seen that Cisse was miles in front of both Ameobi and the last Bolton defender.

Bolton could and should have had their noses in front before Ben Arfa's moment of genius swung the game in Newcastle's favour. The relegation strugglers put in a dogged and effective performance, but their lack of composure in front of goal cost them dearly. You wonder why they weren't able to produce such a hard-working and passionate display in front of their own fans against Fulham in the previous match.

Wanderers now face the real prospect of being back in the relegation zone come their next league match in two weeks time. All their fellow basement rivals play midweek - which seems unfair as Bolton were the only one of the bottom five to have to play two games in three days over Easter - and then again next weekend, when Bolton have a week off due to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Newcastle on the other hand, march confidently on with yet another victory, which lifts them into joint fourth place as the Toon Army go in search of an unexpected Champions League spot. They possess great quality in players like Ben Arfa, Cisse and midfield maestro Yohan Cabaye and an excellent team ethic. The team fully deserve their position in their league and I hope they manage to see off the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham to seal fourth place.

Newcastle: Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Ben Arfa (R Taylor 85), Cabaye, Perch (Ferguson 46), Gutierrez; Ba (Sh Ameobi 64), Cisse. Unused subs: Elliott, Tavernier, Abeid, Gosling.

Goals: Ben Arfa (73), Cisse (83)

Bolton: Bogdan; Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts; M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley; Eagles (Miyaichi 78), Petrov (Klasnic 82); K Davies (Ngog 78). Unused subs: Jaaskalainen, Alonso, Knight, Sordell.

Total articles: 69

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