Ricketts strike caps Bolton's fightback

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The Independent Football

It might have been a below-par performance, but Bolton ultimately cruised through this First Division game and, with discernible relief, secured their first victory in five outings to steady their faltering challenge.

It might have been a below-par performance, but Bolton ultimately cruised through this First Division game and, with discernible relief, secured their first victory in five outings to steady their faltering challenge.

With the home side seeking to revive their challenge at the top and their visitors needing to accumulate points to break free from the clutches of the danger zone, such a lifeless opening to this encounter should perhaps have been expected.

Only the lively Jamaican Ricardo Gardner seemed able to elevate the fare beyond the mediocre. His dribbling surges from the left flank served to highlight deficiencies elsewhere and he was unlucky not to put his side ahead with a fine header from a John O'Kane cross, excellently saved at the near post by Lee Harper.

The visitors barely invaded the Bolton half in the opening period, Karl Connolly miscuing into the arms of Jussi Jaaskelainen but, against the run of play, opened the scoring. Defender Marlon Broomes, on loan from Blackburn, crossed from the right and the towering Peter Crouch headed home.

The lead was barely two minutes old when Gudni Bergsson levelled. Gardner, fittingly, delivered a well-placed corner which Harper tipped towards Bergsson, who had a simple header.

The Londoners took the game to Bolton after the interval but were allowed little space in the box and Richard Langley's shot from distance was just off target.

Not so Robbie Elliott at the other end. He picked up on a loose ball and his thunderous first-time strike from 30 yards gave Harper little chance. Invigorated, the home side took control and Michael Ricketts cheekily tapped in with his heel after a Kevin Nolan through ball.

Bolton continued to press and retained possession impressively, but could not force a fourth goal thanks in the main to poor finishing.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; O'Kane, Bergsson, Fish, Elliott; Nolan, Frandsen, Farrelly, Gardner; Ricketts (Rankin, 79), Hansen. Substitutes not used: Barness, Richardson, Passi, Banks (gk).

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Harper; Breacker, Carlisle, Rose, Broomes; Langley, Morrow (Koejoe, 73), Peacock, Warren; Connolly, Crouch. Substitutes not used: Perry, Ready, Wardley (Langley, 81), Miklosko (gk).

Referee: D Laws (Whitley Bay).

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