Bolton hand Allardyce perfect anniversary gift

Bolton Wanderers 1 - Crystal Palace 0
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The criticism of refereeing by managers is a constant theme in the Premiership and Saturday at the Reebok Stadium was no exception. What set this match apart was the unanimity and all-encompassing nature of complaints from both parties.

The criticism of refereeing by managers is a constant theme in the Premiership and Saturday at the Reebok Stadium was no exception. What set this match apart was the unanimity and all-encompassing nature of complaints from both parties.

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton Wanderers manager, and Ian Dowie, his Crystal Palace counterpart, pulled no punches afterwards in assessing the performances of Neale Barry, the official in question, his assistants, and even Fifa, the game's governing body.

There were three key incidents in question. Two involved rejected penalty claims, one for either side, and the other stemmed from the clash of heads between Ivan Campo and Gary Speed.

After less than five minutes, Andy Johnson, Palace's leading scorer, seized on a mistake by Bruno N'Gotty before stumbling under his challenge. Later on in the first half El Hadji Diouf was tripped by Emmerson Boyce's attempted tackle.

"Johnson's an honest lad and he told me he had his shirt pulled as he was about to shoot," said Dowie. "As far as I'm concerned it was a penalty. And, let's be honest, theirs was a clear penalty too. But I thought once [the referee] had not given their penalty he was trying to make it up to them. I can't say too much, but let's just say I didn't think he was even-handed."

In fairness to the referee, replays showed Johnson's penalty claim to be inconclusive, and it was Barry's assistant who made the judgment on Diouf's appeal. Boyce, in fact, made fractional contact with the ball before he touched the Senegal striker, and so the assistant's decision to award a corner was technically correct.

Allardyce was more concerned with the law that dictates that players with blood on their shirts must leave the pitch.

In the aftermath of Speed and Campo's sickening collision, Bolton were temporarily down to nine men, and the former Welsh international had to leave the field twice more after his initial return to change shirts. While he was off for the final time, Palace came closest to equalising when Danny Granville struck the bar.

"The disruptions we had to put up with today were ridiculous," said Allardyce. "We lost Gary Speed in the second half because he had two blobs of blood on his shirt. It almost cost us a goal because we were trying to defend a set-piece at the time and were down to 10 men through no fault of our own. I thought there were some very inconsistent decisions out there."

Campo, who had been replaced by Henrik Pedersen on 15 minutes after his clash with Speed, underwent plastic surgery yesterday to repair the muscle injury underneath the eye socket, but an X-ray showed no break to his cheekbone. He should be back in a fortnight.

Amid the controversy, Bolton won the game through a Kevin Davies header just before half-time. It resulted from a free-kick on the halfway line which rendered the south London side's efforts futile and they return to the bottom of the Premiership.

By contrast, Allardyce, who celebrates both his 50th birthday and five years in charge at Bolton tomorrow, can be justifiably proud to see his team sitting in fourth position. When he took over, the club were in the old First Division. Now they are well placed for their first-ever foray into European football.

Goal: Davies (45) 1-0.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Jaidi, N'Gotty, Gardner; Nolan (Barness, 90), Speed, Campo (Pedersen, 15), Giannakopoulos; Diouf (Fadiga, 77), Davies. Substitutes not used: Oakes (gk), Ferdinand.

Crystal Palace (4-5-1): Kiraly; Boyce, Hall, Popovic, Granville; Routledge, Watson (Freedman, 69), Riihilahti (Derry, 79), Hughes, Kolkka (Lakis, 61); Johnson. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Sorondo.

Referee: N Barry (Lincolnshire).

Booked: Bolton Wanderers: Davies. Crystal Palace: Watson.

Man of the match: Jaidi.

Attendance: 25,501.

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