FOOTBALL: Fowler limits damage

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The Independent Online
Liverpool 5 Bolton Wanderers 2

On a day when multiple goal scoring was almost the norm in the Premiership, Robbie Fowler not only took the individual honours with his four at Anfield but he could, by his own admission, have had at least as many again.

The Liverpool marksman with all modesty afterwards pointing out that he could have put away "another five or six".

If that sounds like understandable exaggeration it is not. Bolton were so porous that there were few theoretical limits to the damage that Liverpool in general and Fowler in particular could have inflicted.

With a partner alongside him who moved to the same beat, Fowler could have been even more effective. At the moment, however, Stan Collymore still looks a misplaced person, and, for all the impact of the spectacular goals he has scored, they are starting to become irritable with him in the stands at Anfield.

There was little else for them to complain about on Saturday. Jamie Redknapp and Steve McMamanan were delightfully mobile and creative, Steve Harkness and Rob Jones were the perfect wide men in the 3-5-2 formation Liverpool have now refined and, at the back, Mark Wright gave what must be one of his most assured displays in a red shirt.

It was a mystery then how Roy McFarland, a Kop regular himself as a boy, could believe that Bolton had ever had Liverpool remotely worried.

The idea that they might have done began with a semi-humorous rhetorical question in the post-match press conference and referred to Bolton's two quick goals after Liverpool had scored their fourth.

Sad to report, McFarland took it seriously and argued with a straight face that Bolton, with a couple of long shots compared with Liverpool's dozen or so clear chances, had actually had the home side worried in the first half.

If Bolton actually believe that sort of thing their position, already becoming desperate, will be irreversible.

Fixtures have not been kind to them at the start of their Premiership campaign. For the second time in a week they went to one of the citadels of English football and had boiling oil poured on their heads from the battlements. They have Fowler's word for it that it could have been a lot worse.

Goals: Fowler (11) 1-0; Fowler (30) 2-0; Fowler (46) 3-0; Fowler (67) 4-0; Todd (77) 4-1; Patterson pen (81) 4-2; Harkness (83) 5-2.

Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Ruddock, Wright, Babb; Jones, McManaman, Redknapp, Barnes, Harkness; Collymore, Fowler. Substitutes not used: McAteer, Rush, Warner.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; Green, Bergsson, Fairclough, Phillips; Lee, Patterson, Sneekes, Thompson (Todd, 69); DeFreitas, McGinlay (Coyle, 64). Substitute not used: Davison.

Referee: M J Bodenham (Looe, Cornwall).

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