Dichio's last-ditch effort

Bolton Wanderers 0 QPR 1 Dichio 89 Attendance: 17,362
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DANIELE DICHIO might soon find himself out of a first-team job at Queen's Park Rangers, but the club's new signing, Mark Hateley, could not have improved on the timing or the execution of the winning goal at Burnden Park. There were only 20 seconds of normal time remaining when Trevor Sinclair beat Alan Stubbs on the right touchline and found himself with an abundance of time to pick out the towering Dichio in the penalty area.

Dichio, who had gone close with an identical chance also from Sinclair's cross 15 minutes earlier, steered his header just inside the foot of the left post and Bolton were beaten. In truth, the home side, knowing this was a match they must win if a survival strategy is to start taking shape, deserved better.

After a first half during which neither side could manage more than a solitary meaningful shot at goal, they played their best football for several weeks in the second half with Alan Thompson, Stubbs and Richard Sneekes all going close in the first 15 minutes. Rangers gave fair warning that they could sneak away with the point when Simon Barker's cross was glanced on to the inside of the post by Simon Osborn.

Overall, though, a Bolton side with Stephen McAnespie making a solid debut at right-back and Stubbs following up his midweek attempt at a truce with the club's supporters by trying to work his way back into favour on the field, were the more likely to fashion a winner.

The fickleness of football fans can work for you as well as against you. Stubbs, public enemy No 1 in recent weeks, needed only an apologetic article in the Bolton Evening News and a glorious long-range pass to David Lee early in the game to be back in their good books. It was unfortunate, then, but it should have been him left stranded by the effervescent Sinclair for the goal.

Even at that late stage, Bolton could have had an equaliser, a referee who had denied them several free-kick appeals eventually awarding one which saw Sneekes's shot deflected wide. From the corner, his bicycle kick went too high, final proof that their luck was right out.

"It was a cruel game for us," said the Bolton manager, Roy McFarland, who must be starting to wonder whether there is any other kind in the Premiership.