Blackburn Rovers 3 Bolton Wanderers 4

Last updated : 10 January 2004 By Mark Heys
Bolton Wanderers claimed their first win at Ewood Park in 22-years when they came from three goals down to win 4-3 against their local rivals Blackburn Rovers in a thrilling Lancashire derby.

From the first whistle the game was very end to end and this was proved when a quick break by former Rovers striker Kevin Davies set up midfielder Kevin Nolan to fire Bolton into a 1-0 lead.

However the celebrations where short lived and within a minute the home side where back on level terms when Slovakian defender Vratislav Gresko fired an excellent left footed effort past the Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to make the scoreline equal.

On the quarter hour mark Emerson Thome could have furthered the Bolton advantage when he saw his powerful header well saved on the line by Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel.

The consistency of the match officials was brought into question on 21 minutes when Rovers striker Andy Cole appeared to stamp on the young Bolton full back Nicky Hunt. Referee Steve Dunn and his assistant could only book the Manchester United player much to the disgust of the travelling Wanderers supporters who felt that Cole should have recieved his marching orders. With Hunt still receiving treatment, tensions on the field where further increased when Rovers took the lead. Australian international Brett Emerton combined well with Cole to set up Dwight Yorke for his second goal in a week from close range.

On the half hour mark the Bolton manager Sam Allardyce made a tactical change when he replaced former Rover Per Frandsen with Stelios Giannakopoulos in a bid to add more balance to the midfield and stop the runs down the left hand side of the attacking full back Gresko.

A few minutes later Ivan Campo saw his header saved by Friedel and within seconds of the chance Blackburn went down the other end of the pitch to hit a third goal ironically scored by Cole. Bruno N'Gotty misplaced his header and former England striker Cole took full advantage to lob the ball over the advancing Jaaskelainen.

At the time it looked like the away side where dead and buired but to their credit they kept going and got their just rewards when Youri Djorkaeff pulled a goal back with an exquisit lob past Friedel in what was the best goal of the game.

Rovers went into the interval with a 3-2 lead and looked good value for the win but a spirited and gritty second half performance by the Trotters ensued otherwise.

Substitute Giannakopoulos set the standard for the half on 51 minutes when he found himself with a clear sight of goal. However the Greek international spurned the opportunity and hit the ball straight at the Rovers keeper Friedel who was kept busy all afternoon.

On 68 minutes Simon Charlton was taken off with a hamstring injury which forced Wanderers into a further defensive reshuffle. Bruno N'Gotty moved to an unfamiliar left back role whilst Ivan Campo dropped back from midfield into a central defensive role. The injury to key defender Charlton will be a huge headache to the Bolton manager Sam Allardyce who already lost left-wing back Ricardo Gardner during midweek through injury and will not have to look for reinforcements before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Giannakopoulos then had a second bite of the cherry to bring Wanderers back into the game when he scored from close range on 73 minutes after finding himself unmarked by the Rovers defence who had put in an appeal for offside against the former Olympiakos player.

Davies then had a chance to give Wanderers the lead against his former team but he saw his header go the wrong side of Friedel's post and despite a hard working performance by the Yorkshireman he couldn't find a way to breakthrough past his old employers.

On 78 minutes though team-mate Kevin Nolan did find that eventual breakthrough when he scrambled home from close range after being set up by Youri Djorkaeff to set up an exciting finish in one of the most end to end derby games of recent seasons.

Rovers then brought reverted back to a third striker when they brought on Matt Jansen in place of full back Lucas Neill. But neither Jansen nor fellow strikers Cole and Yorke could come up with that extra piece of magic to pull the game back level. In fact it was another substitute Henrik Pedersen, who had critisised his manager in midweek who could have given the away side a further lead but the Dane was unable to capitalise when he found himself in a one on one situation with the giant American keeper and Wanderers managed to overide some injury time pressure to secure the win which now puts some more distance between themselves and the sides below them.