Football: Beardsley's enthusiasm at 36 proves decisive

Coventry City 2 Bolton Wanderers 2
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The Independent Online

Coventry City 2 Bolton Wanderers 2

At the age of 36 you would expect most footballers to start slowing down. Peter Beardsley, however, is not like most footballers. The former England international may have seen it all before, but his enthusiasm for the game remains as great as ever.

At Highfield Road on Saturday Beardsley was making his debut for his latest club, Bolton Wanderers. After 54 minutes Bolton were two goals down when Colin Todd, the manager, decided to introduce his pounds 450,000 recruit from Newcastle as a substitute for John McGinlay.

By the end Bolton had levelled the scores and might even have taken all three points. Beardsley's role was decisive: a through ball for the first of Nathan Blake's two opportunist goals and a pass from which the Welsh international nearly scored a late winner.

Beardsley, typically, played down his part in Bolton's revival. "To be fair we were getting on top when I came on, so that I don't think my substitution was that important," he said.

Others in the Bolton camp were less reluctant to highlight Beardsley's contribution. "He was the difference between the two sides," Gerry Taggart said. "He was just such a breath of fresh air. Experience is everything and he has it in abundance."

Darren Huckerby, a former colleague of Beardsley's at Newcastle, said: "When I was little he was top man and 10 years on he still is. He's a great player who wants to play at the top level and there's no stopping him."

Todd added: "He has not lost his enthusiasm, ability or football brain. Players can give him the ball and he can produce things."

A Bolton recovery looked highly unlikely after a first half in which they had to defend for long periods. Paul Telfer's deflected shot and a smart solo effort by Huckerby gave Coventry a deserved two-goal advantage.

Gordon Strachan, the Coventry manager, blamed his side for letting Bolton back into the game. "Sometimes people get a bit dopey and don't take in things in the heat of the battle," he said.

Goals: Telfer (8) 1-0; Huckerby (20) 2-0; Blake (69) 2-1; Blake (76) 2-2.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Ogrizovic; Shaw, Williams, Breen, Burrows; Telfer, Soltvedt (Boland, 74), Richardson, Salako; Huckerby, Dublin. Substitutes not used: Lightbourne, Hall, Johansen, Hedman.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2) : Branagan; Cox (Phillips, 43), Taggart, Bergsson, Elliott; Frandsen, Pollock, Sellars, Thompson; Blake, McGinlay (Beardsley, 54). Substitutes not used: Johansen, Todd, Ward.

Bookings: Coventry: Williams, Burrows. Bolton: McGinlay, Taggart, Pollock.

Referee: M A Riley (Leeds).

Man of the match: Beardsley Attendance: 16,633.