Bolton prosper as Allardyce backs winner in Diouf

Portsmouth 1 - Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce went to Chester races last week and backed an unusual winner. The twist in fortune for the Bolton manager came when he borrowed the mobile phone of his assistant Phil Brown and took a call from his controversial Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf.

Sam Allardyce went to Chester races last week and backed an unusual winner. The twist in fortune for the Bolton manager came when he borrowed the mobile phone of his assistant Phil Brown and took a call from his controversial Senegal striker El-Hadji Diouf.

Allardyce had told reporters he would leave Diouf out of this game to avoid any further fuss over November's spitting incident with Pompey captain Arjan De Zeeuw that resulted in the Bolton forward receiving a three-match ban. Diouf, seeking a permanent move at the end of his loan spell from Liverpool, did not want to miss the chance of helping Bolton qualify for Europe for the first time and reassured his bosses he could handle the Fratton Park heat.

"I sometimes act as a middle man between Sam and pass on the important stuff, but this time, by chance, Diouf got straight through to the top man and Sam made the right decision," Brown said.

"Now we've got to try and keep the lad at the club and add to the squad to do even better next season." That will be a tall order as Diouf's 11th-minute goal was enough to secure Bolton a Uefa Cup spot even though they allowed woeful Portsmouth a lucky 72nd-minute equaliser through Aiyegbeni Yakubu.

"This has always been our dream since we came to the club," Brown said. "We didn't have a winning bet at Chester, but Sam backed a winner in Diouf. Reaching Europe is our crowning glory but it is what we set out to do after finishing eighth in the Premiership last season. The next step [getting into the Champions' League] could be even harder, but is what we have to strive for over the next few seasons."

Portsmouth will be doing well just to remain in the Premiership next season and their new manager Alain Perrin will start writing a survival guide this week. The first task will be to replace 17-goal striker Yakubu, who is bound for Middlesbrough for around £7m.

"We would like to keep him, but you can't make players stay who don't want to and we have received an offer from a northern club," Perrin confirmed. "I don't know about the finances, but it might be we can make good loans from the big clubs."

That might not be enough to appease the Portsmouth supporters, who spent most of this game abusing Diouf and listening to how Southampton were getting on in their battle against relegation. They then stayed behind to cheer their players on a post-match lap of honour after their last home game of a difficult season.

Goals: Diouf (11) 0-1; Yakubu (72) 1-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Taylor; Mezague (Cissé, 77), O'Neil, Skopolitis (Keene, 60), Hughes; Yakubu, Kamara (Fuller, 60). Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Rodic.

Bolton (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Candela (Jaidi, 77), N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Gardner; Hierro, Giannakopoulos (Nolan, 55), Okocha, Speed, Diouf (Pedersen, 84); Davies. Substitutes not used: Poole, Fadiga.

Referee: M Messias (S Yorkshire).

Booked: Bolton Gardner, Diouf.

Man of the match: Diouf.

Attendance: 20,188.

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