Blackburn Rovers 3 Bolton Wanderers 1
When the poor people from down the street are trying, in broad daylight, to make off with the washing from the line, it helps to have a Rottweiler like Alan Shearer in the back yard. On Saturday Bolton threatened to shin over the wall with one point or even - briefly - all three. They lived to regret rousing the guard dog.
While Shearer is rightly lauded for the sharpness of his goal-scoring instincts, the aspect of his play that opposing managers and players often dwell upon is his sheer physical presence. He does not mind putting himself about and on Saturday, refreshed by a week off, he was all bristling aggression, even if his booking was the result not of that but of a joke that backfired when his impression of a linesman went unappreciated.
It was Bolton who had the better excuse for a sense of humour failure where Shearer is concerned.
The first and second goals of his fourth Ewood Park hat-trick of the season might have been among his least spectacular and his last, in the last minute, might have been largely irrelevant. But he was a constant and intimidating threat to a side that could otherwise have survived everything that was hurled at them.
Shearer has carried off so many match balls this season that he is spreading them round his family. This one is going to his sister; second cousins and obscure in-laws had better clear a place on the mantelpiece.
He was not without quality support on Saturday, with both Lars Bohinen and Kevin Gallacher making significant contributions. But a rested, recharged Shearer, who spent last weekend back in Southampton, was, once more, the decisive factor.
Another former Dell dweller, Tim Flowers, also did his bit, rousing himself from near total inactivity to make a wonderfully instinctive save from Nathan Blake to prevent the unthinkable travesty of Bolton taking the lead nine minutes from time.
Colin Todd waxed lyrical about the pride and passion of his doomed side. "They are giving it their best shot. They are giving it their all and I've no complaints about their effort," he said.
Worthy stuff, but not good enough to enable you to make a getaway with stolen goods when Alan Shearer is snapping at your heels.
Goals: Shearer (12) 1-0; Green (29) 1-1; Shearer (83) 2-1; Shearer (89) 3-1.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Flowers; Berg, Coleman, Hendry, Kenna; Ripley (McKinlay, 7), Bohinen, Sherwood, Gallacher; Shearer, Newell. Substitutes not used: Warhurst, Mimms (gk).
Bolton Wanderers (3-5-2): Branagan; Fairclough (Lee, 87), Stubbs, Bergsson; Green, Curcic, Sneekes, Sellars, Phillips; McGinlay (Blake, 36), Paatelainen. Substitute not used: Thompson.
Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).
Bookings: Blackburn Rovers: Newell, Shearer.
Man of the match: Shearer. Attendance: 30,419.