Football: New era begins with belief

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The Independent Online
Bolton Wanderers. . . . . . . 1

Wolverhampton Wanderers. . . .3

Burnden Park, where Wolves endured their darkest hour in the 1986 FA Cup capitulation to Chorley, saw the Graham Taylor era launched with a potentially priceless victory over Bolton last night, writes Phil Shaw.

Guy Whittingham, standing in for the injured Steve Bull on loan from Villa, scored twice as Wolves kept alive their play-off prospects. His second goal, which killed off Bolton 14 minutes from time, arrived immediately after the former England manager had exchanged his stand seat for a touchline view.

'I said to the chairman: 'I've got to go down there', and it was good to be back on the bench,' Taylor explained. 'Now we've got to keep the impetus going for a very important game at home to Tranmere.'

Taylor claimed no credit for the win, the team having been prepared by his captain, Peter Shirtliff, who presided over two victories and a draw following Graham Turner's resignation. 'Peter's got to be sacked,' the new incumbent quipped. 'He's too good.'

Employing their customary three central defenders - a system which served Taylor well at Villa - Wolves took a 26- minute lead. Lee Mills had a drive parried by Aiden Davison, only for Whittingham to convert the rebound.

During the hosts' best spell, Mike Stowell brilliantly tipped Owen Coyle's curling 20-yard shot on to the woodwork. But the Wolves keeper was helpless in the 50th minute, John McGinlay dispatching his 25th goal of the season after being set up by Coyle.

Andy Thompson stole up from left-back to restore Wolves' advantage six minutes later after Mills' shot had been deflected into his path. Whittingham, who also scored Saturday's winner at Charlton, sealed their success after pouncing on a Davison error.

It was all a far cry from Taylor's discordant England swan- song, against San Marino, when his left-back's main contribution was to give away a seven-second goal.

Bolton Wanderers (5-3-2): Davison; Brown, Stubbs (Lee, 78), Seagraves, Winstanley, Phillips; Alan Thompson, McAteer, Patterson; Coyle, McGinlay. Substitutes not used: Walker, Walton (gk).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (5-3-2): Stowell; Rankine, Blades, Shirtliff, Venus, Andy Thompson; Keen, Ferguson, Cook (Birch, h/t); Mills, Whittingham. Substitutes not used: Regis, Jones (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street).