A rather dire Boxing Day affair was won courtesy of two goals in two minutes as Newcastle took all three points away from the Reebok this afternoon.
Hatem Ben Arfa scored his first goal in 14 months followed by yet another goal from Demba Ba who notched his 14th goal in Newcastle colours.
As expected, Mike Williamson returned to the side at the expense of James Perch. Not to be too down on Perch, but you could tell the defence was more settled with an actual centre-back alongside Coloccini. Williamson, despite his critics, played well considering he’s been out of action since the start of September. Yohan Cabaye was also reintroduced to the starting line up after missing the match against West Brom due to suspension.
The away side started off the brighter of the two but neither was able to find the final killer ball in what was a rather dismal first half devoid of much quality. The best two chances came from free kicks which Tim Krul and Jussi Jääskeläinen dealt with.
In reality it was a poor half. Gabriel Obertan frustrated as did Leon Best as Newcastle struggled to create much. On the other hand Bolton showed why they’ve been rooted in the relegation places for most of the season and offered little going forward themselves.
The second half started off in much the same way as the first although Leon Best improved, slightly, and Obertan looked much more lively. It wasn’t until the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa on the hour mark though that Newcastle took the game by the scruff of the neck.
As soon as Ben Arfa arrived on the field we looked more threatening going forward. We had that link between midfield and attack that had been lacking and we kept hold of possession a bit longer. The best bit though come on 69 minutes when Ryan Taylor crossed low into the box for Hatem Ben Arfa to smash home unmarked from 12 yards. It was a cracking finish that left the Bolton ‘keeper with no chance.
It got better still just two minutes later when Gabriel Obertan skinned the Bolton full-back and delivered another low cross into the box which Demba Ba prodded home. At 2-0 up it looked as though Newcastle had done enough to secure the points and give Alan Pardew a first win in six attempts.
And so it proved. Bolton rarely threatened to get back into the match and on the evidence of this match they may well face a struggle for the rest of the season. Newcastle had chances to hit the home side on the counter-attack but a combination of poor decision making and poor delivery combined to ensure that the score wasn’t increased further.
The win gives us 30 points after 18 games which is a total that I’d have snapped your hands off for at the start of the campaign. Next up it’s Liverpool in a 6th v 7th tussle on Friday evening. A win in that game and suddenly the battle for a European place is back on.
Howay the lads!
Bolton: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Paul Robinson, Dedryck Boyata, Zat Knight, Gary Cahill, Mark Davies, Fabrice Muamba, Nigel Reo-Coker, Martin Petrov, Ivan Klasnic, David N’Gog
Subs: Adam Bogdan, Chris Eagles, Tuncay Sanli, Kevin Davies, Sam Ricketts, Darren Pratley, David Wheater
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba, Leon Best
Subs: Rob Elliot, James Perch, Shane Ferguson, Hatem Ben Arfa, Haris Vuckic, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi