Football: Blake brings relief

Bolton Wanderers 1 West Ham United 1
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The Independent Online
By Ian Rodgers

Bolton Wanderers 1 West Ham United 1

BOLTON and West Ham shared the points in a tale of two Welshmen at the Reebok Stadium. Nathan Blake, the Wanderers striker and Wales international, scored an equaliser four minutes from the end after Trevor Sinclair's 65th-minute opener for West Ham.

But the Hammers had already seen their own Welsh frontman, John Hartson, dismissed after 56 minutes for raising a hand to Bolton's Danish midfielder Per Frandsen and he was immediately dismissed by the referee, Paul Alcock.

Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, said: "I cannot defend John because, to me, it looked like he did it. The lad was pulling at his shirt but I still can't defend him. We've lost John now for three games and that will be a big blow."

The 19-goal striker had appeared to be the big threat, but Redknapp's team had to console themselves with a draw and Wanderers fans were again disappointed after their side failed to gain three points for the 10th Premiership game in succession.

Sinclair broke the deadlock 20 minutes after the break when he received a lovely Eyal Berkovitch pass before slotting coolly past Keith Branagan. But, after the Bolton manager, Colin Todd, made a 74th-minute switch replacing the defender Chris Fairclough with the Icelander Arnar Gunnlaugsson, it was the substitute who came good four minutes from time when he crossed for Blake to head his 11th goal of the season powerfully past Craig Forrest.

Todd said that it was now the responsibility of his more experienced professionals to give guidance to the younger element of the side as they seek to stave off relegation. "It is up to the experienced players to help the younger ones," he said. "We are a very quiet team in terms of having leaders, even though we had Fairclough, Bergsson and Cox - who have played a few games - out there. But I remain positive that we will get out of it."

Goals: Sinclair 65 (0-1); Blake 86 (1-1)

Bolton Wanderers: Branagan, Cox, Thompson, Todd, Fairclough (Gunnlaugsson, 74), Bergsson, Pollock, Johansen, Frandsen, Blake, Holdsworth. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Sheridan, Phillips, Taylor.

West Ham United: Forrest, Unsworth, Pearce, Ferdinand, Lampard, Moncur, Berkovitch, Lazaridis, Impey, Hartson, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Lama (gk), Bishop, Potts, Hodges, Mean.

Referee: P Alcock (Redhill).

Sent off: West Ham: Hartson.

Man of the match: Todd.

Attendance: 25,000.