So often the script is for a former player to come back and prove a point against the ones that sold him. For Kevin Nolan reality was very different on his return to the Reebok since he left Bolton in 2009 after 12 seasons.
It was a humbling experience after the high of leading Newcastle to a 5-1 derby win over Sunderland. This time Nolan felt what it was like for the oppositionthat day as Bolton ruthlessly exposed the deficiencies in his side's defence.
Nolan may have sensed it was not going to go right for him or his team when, barely a minute into the game, he came out on top in a duel with Paul Robinson, burst into the box but curled a shot over. He then conceded the penalty that gave Bolton the opener. As the ball rolled up his body Nolan used his arm to knock it over the advancing Lee Chung-Yong. A nerveless Kevin Davies sent Tim Krul the wrong way.
Nolan played a part in the second goal, too, but this time without touching the ball. Matt Taylor struck the bar with a curling 25-yard free kick but Newcastle did not clear with conviction – Danny Simpson tried to play a pass to Nolan and it was blocked by Johan Elmander into the path of Lee who calmly finished past Krul.
A third followed five minutes after the break and it was a move that was simple but ever-so-stylish. Lee crossed from the right to pick out Davies on the edge of the box and he, despite the crowd around him, threaded a pass to Elmander. The Swede, resurgent this season after his past struggles, calmly rounded Krul and slotted home.
Andy Carroll gave Newcastle hope with an immediate response but Elmander showed immense strength to out-muscle Fabricio Coloccini and slip home a second in the 72nd minute.
Coloccini resorted to an unfair challenge three minutes later to stop Elmander. The elbow on the touchline led to a deserved red card.
Davies rounded off an entertaining and enterprising display from his side with his second from the penalty spot after José Enrique had clambered over him.
Bolton are now fourth, but "fanciful" was how Owen Coyle described his side's hopes of a European place. "The only league table I look at is the one after the season finishes. That determines where we are," he said. "You see a real togetherness, a work-rate and intensity and we have quality to go with it. We will keep trying to win games but we are not at a level where we can click our fingers and it falls into place."
One player who provides hope is Elmander. He only trained on Friday after a few days off when his wife gave birth to a girl. But you would not have noticed. Given he is out of contract in the summer, his display will only alert other clubs. But Coyle said: "I'm very comfortable with the situation. If I keep getting performances like that from him I'll be delighted. his performance was outstanding."
Chris Hughton said: "It is my worst day as Newcastle manager. I don't think 5-1 was a true reflection but we gave away some very poor goals."
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Elmander
Match rating: 8/10Reuse content