Football: Bolton find a saviour

Bolton Wanderers 3 Frandsen 31, Blake 53, Thompson pen 69 Sheffie ld Wednesday 2 Booth 26, Atherton 59 Attendance: 24,847
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The Independent Online
SURVIVAL is a natural human instinct, the strength of which cannot be tested until doom is imminent. Hanging over the Premiership precipice provoked Bolton's under-pressure players to prove that they will scrap for their lives among the elite.

They had not tasted success since 1 December, but an inspired performance by Per Frandsen gave them a vital victory on a day when only Tottenham, who drew, and Crystal Palace did not win.

It was Alan Thompson's 69th-minute penalty that gave Bolton an edge that proved decisive, despite Sheffield Wednesday's desperate search for an equaliser in the closing stages.

It was a particularly satisfying day for the Danish midfielder Frandsen, who was involved in all the good things the home side did to ensure victory and earn a standing ovation from the grateful home fans.

Both sides could have scored in a bright opening, and Keith Branagan was the hero in holding the fort in the home goal. But, in the 26th minute, he could do nothing about Wednesday's opening goal. Earl Barrett crossed from the far post, Mark Fish deflected the ball into the path of Andy Booth and he hit home his seventh goal of the season.

Bolton battled back on to level terms in just five minutes. Their former Wednesday man John Sheridan found Frandsen on the edge of the area and he curled his third goal of the season perfectly around Kevin Pressman, who then denied Neil Cox three minutes before the break. Eight minutes after it, Bolton did go ahead. Frandsen's shot from the edge of the area was deflected wide but, from Thompson's corner, Nathan Blake headed his 12th of the season.

Only six minutes later, Cox's error allowed Paolo Di Canio to help Mark Pembridge set up Peter Atherton for the equaliser. Then came Thompson's spot-kick, courtesy of Jon Newsome's handball, and it was no more than Bolton deserved.

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