Bolton prompt rethink

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The Independent Online
Queen's Park Rangers 1 Bolton Wanderers 2

With a wonderful, swerving sweep of his left foot, Alan Thompson sent the man from Ladbrokes scurrying to revise his promotion odds. Before the start it was Rangers who ranked favourites but, having outmanoeuvred them, Bolton went on to take over that mantle and also leadership of the First Division.

Thompson's injury-time winner, after John McGinlay had pin-pointed him with an astute pass, got Bolton off the hook, because serious dressing- room questions would have been posed had QPR held onto the point Alan McDonald's equaliser seemed to have achieved.

For the home side the season's first defeat was the second choker of the weekend. The bad news before was that Kevin Gallen, their England Under-21 striker with three goals already to his name from the opening fixtures, had ruptured cruciate knee ligaments in the victory at Portsmouth and will miss the remainder of the season.

Ray Wilkins' squad is hardly equipped to sustain such a blow and he will be seeking some of new owner Chris Wright's fortune to improve that situation.

The lesson to be learned is that while Bolton have lost star names (Stubbs and Curcic) Colin Todd has bought well to replace them. Once in front Bolton looked the more likely of last season's relegated pair to make the return to the promised land.

"After the last game I sat the players down and told them we didn't want to go through that experience again, that if we stayed mentally strong we'd have a chance this season," Todd said. "If you want it badly enough, who knows what's possible and our spirit is first class."

His Danish newcomers, Per Frandsen and Michael Johansen, worked hard and it was the former's lashing strike in the 28th minute which came back off a post and found McGinlay quickest to respond.

Until then Rangers had held the upper hand, with Daniele Dichio a bustling menace and Wilkins organising the youngsters around him in midfield with intelligence. The player-manager himself struck a rising shot just too high and Paul Murray's incisive right-wing surge so nearly obtained its reward.

When McDonald popped up with a close-in header from a 79th minute corner, that looked to be that. But Thompson followed a sweet turn with a magnificent finish and Bolton now find themselves 9-2 to finish on top. There is much worse value.

Goals: McGinlay (28) 0-1; McDonald (79) 1-1; Thompson (90) 1-2.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Jackson, Yates, McDonald, Brevett; Murray, Wilkins (Slade, 62), Quashie, Brazier; Dichio, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Roberts (gk), Maddix.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; McAnespie, Fairclough, Taggart, Phillips; Lee, Frandsen, Thomspon, Johansen (Sellars, 81); McGinley, Blake. Substitutes not used: Taylor, Todd.

Bookings: Queen's Park Rangers: McDonald. Bolton: Blake, McAnespie.

Referee: K Sleach (Wolverhampton).

Man of the match: Thompson.

Attendance: 11,225.