Oldham fail to slay Goliaths from Bolton

Oldham Athletic 0 - Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online

During his unsuccessful stint as manager of Queen's Park Rangers, Ray Harford sensed his time was up when he returned to his car to find the windows staved in and drove home after a defeat with the rain and wind cutting into his face.

During his unsuccessful stint as manager of Queen's Park Rangers, Ray Harford sensed his time was up when he returned to his car to find the windows staved in and drove home after a defeat with the rain and wind cutting into his face.

Brian Talbot might have realised that the glory of knocking Manchester City out of the FA Cup would not to be repeated when his Mercedes reached Boundary Park having been trashed by demonstrators.

There was to be no second triumph in a Lancashire derby for Oldham Athletic; only Davids of a truly exceptional vintage slay two Goliaths in a single season and, now Bolton are secure in their Premiership status, they take the FA Cup extremely seriously these days.

They scored early and with Fernando Hierro giving a masterful display in front of his back four, Bolton had enough to keep Oldham at bay. It would have added to Talbot's frustrations that the decisive goal was a soft one. Ricardo Vaz Te will remember the diving header that produced the teenager's first senior goal since he moved to Bolton after leaving school in Portugal, but the Oldham keeper, Les Pogliacomi, would wince at its recall. He got a glove to Vaz Te's header but simply steered it into the corner of the net. The Australian pulled off two fine close-range saves from Vaz Te and Kevin Davies in the second half and, on balance Bolton deserved their victory.

It was, however, a triumph soured by the sight of their full-back, Nicky Hunt, being taken off on a stretcher with a severely bruised ankle after an ugly challenge from Lee Croft. "I am not sure the lad meant it; he probably doesn't know how to tackle," said the Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce. "Even if there's not a break, he's suffered massive ligament damage." Allardyce does, however, hope to complete the signing of Roma's French international left-back, Vincent Candela, later today.

It was not a pretty tie and well though Talbot's makeshift midfield of young loan signings played, Oldham lacked an edge in the penalty area. Scott Vernon, who had scored the winner against Manchester City, was injured and his replacement, John Eyre, had managed two goals all season. In hindsight, which for any manager is the worst of all viewpoints, it might have been better had Kenny Cooper, a forward on Manchester United's books, been introduced earlier. Until he came on, Oldham's work-rate had forced plenty of corners and free-kicks but most were wretchedly delivered.

However, in the last quarter of an hour, they should at least have forced the replay that would have earned the club even more than the £700,000 brought in by runs in three cups. Talbot must have cursed that in a desperately crowded and chaotic area two great chances had both fallen to defenders. While Danny Hall at least forced a save from Jussi Jaaskelainen, Alex Bruce flailed wildly over.

Goal: Vaz Te 9 (0-1).

Oldham Athletic (4-4-2): Pogliacomi; Bruce, Haining (Lomax, 56), Hall, Griffin; Croft, Hughes, Kilkenny, Eyres; Betsy, Eyre (Cooper, 71). Substitutes not used: Mildenhall (gk), Appleby, Cooper, Lever.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Jaaskelainen; Hunt (Barness, 58), N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Gardner; Hierro; Nolan Pedersen, Fadiga (Diouf, 89); Vaz Te (Campo, 81), Davies. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Laville.

Referee: M Messias (South Yorkshire).

Booked: Bolton: Hierro, Ben Haim.

Man of the match: Hierro.

Attendance: 12,029.

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