Football: Nolan rides his luck to increase Dowie's sense of injustice

Crystal Palace 0 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online
LUCK EVENS itself out over the course of a season, right? Try telling that to Iain Dowie. Having lost Gonzalo Sorondo, his best defender, because of a brutally harsh sending-off in midweek, the Crystal Palace manager saw his side defeated to a goal of endless dispute.

Whether Kevin Nolan's 31st-minute shot crossed the line or not was almost immaterial. What mattered was that no one could be sure, even following countless replays, and it shouldn't have been allowed by the referee, Graham Poll, after consulting his assistant Bernard Baker.

Dowie's frustration was palpable. It has been for a while and has fuelled his criticisms of chairman Simon Jordan for not spending. That spat will run and even as Dowie sought to explain it, the collision course was clear. "We are both very strong characters and we are not always going to agree," he said. "We both have to learn lessons. Simon has invested heavily [a reputed pounds 40m] and I want to be involved in the process of taking this club forward." Dowie's contract has three years to run. The feeling is, with at least two clubs watching, he may remain in the Premiership, even if Palace do not.

The prospects of relegation were enhanced by this result. Instead of pulling further clear, as they should have done, Palace are clogged right back in it. Nolan's goal earned Bolton Wanderers' a seventh successive win - following six defeats. But the performance was laced with outrageous fortune.

Not that the Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, cared. "When things were not going for us the referee's assistant would have missed that," Allardyce said. He added that there was "no doubt" about the goal. It wasn't an opinion universally shared. Stelios Giannakopoulos's chip was blocked, Nolan hooked the ball back between Darren Powell and Emmerson Boyce, who was behind the line when he cleared. Nolan wheeled away in delight and Mr Baker waved frantically. "We have had a goal against us which the wonders of modern technology cannot find an answer for but a linesman 45 yards away can," Dowie said.

He was right. He was also right in saying that his team should have won anyway. They missed chance after chance - chief among them an opportunity spurned by Andy Johnson who bundled the ball past a post from three yards.

The striker, deservedly called up to the England squad, apologised later. He shouldn't have been alone.

Goals: Nolan (31) 0-1.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Boyce, Hall, Powell, Granville; Routledge (Kolkka, 59), Leigertwood (Riihilahti, 64), Hughes, Soares (Andrews, 88); Johnson, Freedman. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Borrowdale.

Bolton Wanderers (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Barness, N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Gardner; Speed, Campo (Hierro, 64), Nolan; Giannakopoulos (Pedersen, 76), Davies, Diouf (Jaidi, 89). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Fadiga.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Booked: Bolton Giannakopoulos.

Man of the match: Jaaskelainen.

Attendance: 23,163.