This victory, combined with the defeat of their hated rivals Tottenham, ensured West Ham's second-best finish in their ninth Premiership season and with it the hefty amount of £6.6m in prize money.
Seventh place must be like manna from heaven for Glenn Roeder and his now very happy Hammers – 17th place and the safety that brings would have seemed like a good season after their 7-1 drubbing at Blackburn Rovers in mid-October. That saw them slump to 19th in the table and the question marks that had hovered over Roeder ever since his appointment in place of Harry Redknapp last June seemed ever more relevant.
Despite their shock win over Manchester United in December West Ham were still in danger until the Christmas period saw them begin their long climb away from peril. It was, of course, under Redknapp that they recorded their best Premiership finish, coming fifth three years ago, but two mediocre seasons followed. As Roeder reflected: "We turned the corner this season. We were disappointing last year and now we're back on track. This is a very difficult league so all credit to the players. This is a small first-team squad."
A first-half effort from Steve Lomas and a late winner from Ian Pearce ensured West Ham's fourth consecutive home win. With only three defeats at Upton Park all season, Roeder has apparently cracked the secret of Premiership security and with the World Cup-bound Joe Cole plus Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe all blossoming into fully fledged first-team players, simply staying up should not be the Hammers' only raison d'être in future seasons. Unfortunately, Carrick limped out of this match at the end and probably out of the European Under-21 Championship in Switzerland this week.
Bolton have no complexes about claiming a successful year, having assured a second consecutive season in the Premiership for the first time in their history. However, manager Sam Allardyce will still have a fight on his hands again next year, not least because Youri Djorkaeff, the scorer of a deflected equaliser in this game and a recent inspiration, is unlikely to return to the Reebok Stadium in July after playing in the World Cup.
How Allardyce will replace the French playmaker was hinted at by Roeder, who spoke for both camps when he said: "I'm going to be working with a low budget this summer, with small transfers or Bosman frees, but I'm still going to try and improve the squad."
West Ham United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1
Goals: Lomas (44) 1-0; Djorkaeff (67) 1-1; Pearce (89) 2-1
West Ham United (4-4-2): James 6; Pearce 6, Repka 5, Dailly 6, Winterburn 6; Carrick 7 (Moncur, 90), Lomas 7, Cole 6, Sinclair 6; Defoe 7, Kanouté 7 (Garcia, 90). Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Potts, Labant.
Bolton Wanderers: (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen 6; Bergsson 5, Barness 5, Charlton 5, Konstandinis 5 (Smith 4, 60); Tofting 4 (Nolan 5, h-t), Farrelly 4, Frandsen 5, Djorkaeff 6; Bobic 4, Ricketts 5 (Holdsworth 5, h-t). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Wallace.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral) 6.
Bookings: West Ham: Repka. Bolton: Farrelly.
Man of the match: Defoe.
Attendance: 35,346.Reuse content