Football: Gardner outwits Albion

West Bromwich Albion 2 Bolton Wanderers 3
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The Independent Online
RICARDO GARDNER, the Jam-aican international, captured the points for Bolton with an 89th-minute winner after West Bromwich Albion had fought back gallantly from a 2-0 first-half deficit and seemed to have done enough to secure a point and bring more frustration to Colin Todd, the Bolton manager.

The Lancashire side had already squandered winning positions in two of their four league matches before last night. It appeared they were to suffer the same fate after goals by Sean Flynn and Kevin Kilbane cancelled out those by Arnar Gunnlaugsson and Nathan Blake, which had put Bolton 2-0 up within 26 minutes. But even after the dismissal of defender Gudni Bergsson for a second bookable offence had reduced them to 10 men, Bolton had the last word when Gardner, a 68th-minute substitute for an off-form Dean Holdsworth, capped a rapid diagonal run from left to right by beating the goalkeeper Alan Miller with an angled shot.

Moments earlier, Miller had pulled off a stunning save to keep out a Per Frandsen free-kick and Jason van Blerk had executed a crucial block tackle to defy Claus Jenson as a determined Albion fought to hold on to a point.

It was no less than they deserved. Although they had shown their defensive frailty in the first quarter, they stormed back, with Flynn scoring from a curling shot before half-time and Kilbane equalising on the hour.

Kilbane's goal was a splendid effort. He linked with Lee Hughes and Fabian De Freitas before accelerating between two defenders to chip the ball over Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Albion had gone behind in the19th minute when Gunn-laugsson, who appeared in Iceland's 1-1 draw with world champions France at the weekend, swerved past two defenders before shooting in off Miller's left-hand post. Gunn- laugsson then turned provider, delivering the low cross from which Blake, who later was withdrawn with a leg injury, stooped to direct a header past Miller from six yards.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Miller; Mardon, Raven, Carbon, Van Blerk; Quinn, Flynn, Sneekes, Kilbane; Evans (De Freitas, 42), Hughes. Substitutes not used: Murphy, Bortolazzi.

Bolton Wanderers (3-5-2): Jaaskelainen; Todd, Fish, Bergsson; Cox, Jenson (Johansen, 90), Frandsen, Gunnlaugsson, Whitlow; Blake (Taylor, 32), Holdsworth (Gardner, 68).

Referee: B Coddington (Sheffield).