Chelsea's cause advanced by Newton

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The Independent Online

Chelsea 3 Bolton Wanderers 2

As expected, there was much wrestling for control at Stamford Bridge last night. Chelsea and Bolton swapped mistakes and goals with much freedom, as Ken Bates and Matthew Harding again swapped swipes in print in their duel for domination.

It has been a week for seeking public sympathy and yesterday was Bates's turn. The chairman was absent from the game through illness, but his programme notes from his sickbed queried Harding's framework for improving Chelsea. "Give precise details of this crock of gold you intend to produce," he told his rival who took a seat in the stands to the accompaniment of flashbulbs.

Precision was in little evidence on the field as Chelsea were largely rudderless without Ruud Gullit, who was absent with a calf injury for which he is receiving treatment in Milan. Bolton were little better, but they took the lead as Chelsea seemed frozen by their internecine strife.

After 11 minutes the Serbian Sasa Curcic advanced unhindered into Chelsea territory and accepted John McGinlay's return pass before beating Dmitri Kharin with ease. Chelsea's response was equally fluent six minutes later, David Lee continuing a run from the back to slide home a cross from the home debutant, Dan Petrescu.

Petrescu added another assist 15 minutes into the second half, his weighted ball across the face of the penalty area being stroked in off a post by Gareth Hall, but eight minutes later another defender on leave, Scott Green, headed Bolton level. The evening's decisive moment was another header, provided in the 87th minute by Eddie Newton from Mark Hughes's cross.

Glenn Hoddle praised the application of his team in trying circumstances. "Sometimes you have to detach yourself from what is going on and the boys did that tonight," he said.

Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Hall, Johnsen, Lee, Duberry; Petrescu, Burley, (Spackman, 77), Newton, Wise; Stein (Furlong, 71), Hughes. Substitute not used: Hitchcock (gk),

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Taggart, Bergsson, Fairclough, Green; Phillips, Patterson, Curcic, Todd; McGinlay, Thompson. Substitutes not used: Davison (gk), Sneekes, McAnespie.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).