Bolton keep their nerve

Leeds United 0 Bolton Wanderers 1 Bergsson 16 Attendance: 30,106
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The Independent Online
IT HAS been a fortnight of outrageous contrasts for the Premiership's bottom club, with the humiliation by Manchester United now sandwiched between away wins at Middlesbrough and at Leeds.

Although Bolton owed much to their goalkeeper, Keith Branagan, their victory at Elland Road went a long way towards classifying Leeds as cup specialists, pure and simple.

United's first league game after a month devoted to advancing towards Wembley in two competitions saw them beaten by Gudni Bergsson's goal in the 16th minute. The Icelander rose at the far post to meet a free-kick from the former Leeds player Scott Sellars and did what Leeds failed to do all afternoon by beating John Lukic.

Branagan had already been tested by one stinging volley by Tony Yeboah. He became busier as the game went on, with his most hectic period coming in the last 12 minutes, when, having already denied Nigel Worthington and Gary McAllister, he had to make further saves from Tomas Brolin, Yeboah, Rod Wallace and Carlton Palmer.

Admirable as Branagan's efforts were, he should still have been beaten a minute from time when Wallace's pull back presented Brian Deane with an open goal but Deane powered his header wide.

For all the activity they forced the Bolton goalkeeper into, Leeds were never fully convincing. Bolton might have been under siege at times, but there were others when they threatened to inflict further embarrassment on their hosts.

The effervescent Sasa Curcic hit a post from a corner and went close again from almost as acute an angle, while Nathan Blake, playing alone up front, almost punished Paul Beesley for the mistake.

The late introduction of Fabian de Freitas also caused Leeds problems. His first touch steered Alan Stubbs' free-kick to Scott Green and his second saw him nod the return past the post. His next involvement ended with a shot against the upright after Stubbs had sent him through.

A second goal would have eased Bolton's nerves, but those nerves proved equal to the final assault as they made up two points on the sides immediately above them in the relegation zone.