Allardyce hits back after Souness attacks Bolton's 'scrappy' tactics

Bolton Wanderers 2 - Newcastle United 1
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The Independent Online

The Bolton manager Sam Allardyce rounded on his Newcastle counterpart Graeme Souness last night for criticising Wanderers' style of play.

Allardyce saw his side reclaim fourth place in the table after a 2-1 victory at the Reebok Stadium, Kevin Davies' 70th-minute winner bringing to an end to Souness' unbeaten run as Newcastle manager after 10 games in charge. The former Blackburn manager accused his opponents of using long throw-ins and set pieces to be successful.

"There wasn't enough football on show for me tonight," Souness said. "But Bolton are fourth in the League playing that way."

However, Allardyce countered: "Graeme is knackered because little old Bolton have beaten Newcastle. He should not comment on my team. He should look at their performance, not look at our performance. His responsibility is to look at his team. They could not cope with my side. We were too good for them. Newcastle were not very fluent because we did not allow them to be. We nullified all their strengths. We did a massive job in stopping an unbelievable strike force. It was only a wonder goal that stopped us.

"We are in the business of results. How you get results doesn't matter really You get it by playing as you can, by working as hard as you can. You will find at any level most games are won by set pieces. If things get a little scrappy, it doesn't really matter. We have sent 28,000 fans home as happy as Larry."

Kevin Davies, who shares Alan Shearer's pedigree as a former Blackburn and Southampton striker, was the match winner in the 70th minute, but Bolton were the better side by a distance in a match which only came alive in the second half.

Souness added: "It was a very obvious threat - throw-ins and set pieces. It is not everyone's cup of tea but you can see where they are in the league they are very successful at it. I felt by and large we defended well but when you look at the two goals they are disappointing. It was a scrap. We had to battle with them all the way. They have got the break on the day."

After a dour first 20 minutes notable mainly for some hard work and sinuous turns down the right flank by El-Hadji Diouf, Newcastle lived dangerously midway through the first half. Stephen Carr's weak back-pass put his side under pressure and Bolton thought they should have had a penalty when Stelios Giannakopoulos went down under Andy O'Brien's tackle.

The difference between the sides was apparent in the way that Jay-Jay Okocha took control of a bouncing ball in midfield and combined with Ricardo Gardner to set up a shooting chance for Stelios, who drove it wide.

In theory, a Newcastle formation that had Patrick Kluivert playing just behind Shearer and Craig Bellamy looked full of attacking potential. In practice, they could make no headway against a Bolton defence helped out by their summer signing from Newcastle, Gary Speed, doing a fine job in filling the role just in front of the back four left vacant by Ivan Campo's injury.

The game had more than its share of throw-ins so it was fitting that the first goal should come from one. Newcastle could not clear the ball when Okocha hurled it in from the right, Radhi Jaidi headed it back to the far post - at the cost of a broken nose - and Diouf stooped low to finish.

He was booked for partially taking off his shirt in celebration, but a worse indignity for Bolton was that they were exposed three minutes later when Darren Ambrose collected Bruno N'Gotty's clearing header and unleashed a shot into the top corner from 30 yards out - Newcastle's first attempt on goal and an unstoppable one.

Lee Bowyer put a fleeting chance just too high as Souness's side threatened to turn the logic of the game on its head, but Bolton kept their nerve. Davies got his head to Fernando Hierro's free-kick and slid the ball home when it came back to him from Diouf.

Henrik Pedersen, who along with Kevin Nolan has agreed a new long-term contract at the Reebok, could have put it beyond doubt. His miss resulted in a nervous last few minutes for Bolton, especially when Jussi Jaaskelainen had to tip Laurent Robert's low shot around the post at full stretch.

Goals: Diouf (52) 1-0; Ambrose (55) 1-1; Davies (70) 2-1.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi (Hierro, 54), N'Gotty, Gardner; Speed; Stelios (Pedersen, 61), Okocha, Nolan; Davies, Diouf (Barness, 84). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Ferdinand.

Newcastle United (4-3-1-2): Given; Carr (Bernard, 77), O'Brien, Elliott, Hughes; Bowyer, Butt, Ambrose (Ameobi, 71); Kluivert (Robert, 66); Shearer, Bellamy. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Bramble.

Referee: G Poll (Dorset).

Booked: Bolton: Diouf. Newcastle: Robert.

Man of the match: Diouf.

Attendance: 27,196.

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