Football: A beating for Bolton

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THE three comprehensive defeats handed out to Bolton Wanderers, Barnsley and Crystal Palace, the teams promoted from the First Division in May, underlined the difficulty of the transition to the Premiership and the strong likelihood that at least two of them will swiftly return whence they came.

Coventry City, back in the old "battling relegation" routine, got their run of games against fellow strugglers off to a successful start with a thumping 5-1 win at Bolton. Scott Sellars put the hosts ahead after 21 minutes, firing in the rebound after Per Frandsen's shot hit a post.

Thereafter, Coventry wrote the script. Level within five minutes when Paul Telfer's corner was only half cleared and Noel Whelan thumped the ball in from the edge of the penalty area, they ran away with it in the second half as Darren Huckerby and captain Dion Dublin both scored twice.

A run of just two wins in nine matches appeared to make a nonsense of suggestions that Chelsea were a good wager for the Premiership title but they didn't have to be at their best to beat bottom club Barnsley 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Gianluca Vialli scored the first when Dennis Wise rolled a free-kick to Eddie Newton. His perfect cross was headed down by Mark Hughes leaving Vialli a simple finish, his 15th goal of the season. Hughes added the Blues' second two minutes into the second half.

How Tomas Brolin, Palace's Swedish striker, must have relished yesterday's visit by Leeds United. His move to Yorkshire from Parma at a cost of pounds 4.5m was the prelude to two wretched seasons under Howard Wilkinson and George Graham in which he scored four goals.

Payback time? No, his experience of Leeds was just as unpleasant. After five minutes he got a head wound in an off the ball clash and while he was being stitched up in the dressing room, the Palace defence were being similarly treated by Leeds.

Rod Wallace beat the home side's off-side trap and ran on to Gary Kelly's through ball to beat Kevin Miller. Shortly after Brolin returned, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink beat Miller with a 20-yard shot. After 11 attempts, Palace still seek their first home Premiership win of the season.

At Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon drew 1-1. The Owls took the lead when the Dons defender, Peter Fear, swung a boot at Benito Carbone's cross and saw it canon past Neil Sullivan off Mark Pembridge's leg. The visitors' equaliser was more conventional. A corner conceded by Wednesday's new signing, Andy Hinchcliffe, was cleared but when the ball was quickly returned a soft defensive header fell to Michael Hughes who took it on his chest and drove a 20-yard half-volley past Kevin Pressman.