Bolton Wanderers 4 Charlton Athletic 1: Allardyce wins the battle of England suitors

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The Independent Online

Alan Curbishley, the Charlton Athletic manager, will be hoping the Football Association did not treat yesterday's match against Sam Allardyce's Bolton Wanderers as any kind of play-off to judge the selection of the next England manager.

Bolton came into this match on the back of a run of five defeats and a draw - not to mention a barren spell in front of goal dating back to April Fool's Day, that has scuppered any hopes of qualifying for the Champions' League.

After this facile victory, though, which was guaranteed by first-half goals from Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Davies and Jared Borgetti, a second successive Uefa Cup campaign is back on the agenda.

"We had a long, long meeting on Friday and I made some changes to the team to freshen things up and I'm pleased to say it had a terrific effect," said Allardyce. "Hopefully, we can take that into our last three games and remain unbeaten for the rest of the season." It was a game that reflected well on the strength and purposeful style that Allardyce has imposed on Bolton. However, Charlton were insipid and played like a team whose ambitions had stopped the moment Premiership mid-table mediocrity was assured. "We got completely overpowered in the first half," said Curbishley. "We've got half a team missing and most of them are six-footers. We couldn't cope without them and the goals we conceded were a joke. But take nothing away from Bolton - they've been up there all season and might still get a European place yet."

The damage was done in the first half, courtesy of an inadequate performance from an overworked Charlton defence.

Vaz Te had already created two excellent chances before ending Bolton's seven-hour goal drought. Charlton should have been duly warned but instead, when Hidetoshi Nakata swung in a fine cross from the Bolton right, Chris Perry was isolated against Borgetti and Vaz Te. The latter climbed highest to direct a header past Myhre for his side's first goal in five games - after which another two duly arrived in the next 20 minutes.

Ivan Campo's free-kick was the source for the second, with Borgetti heading on to the foot of the post. Myhre should have claimed the rebound but fumbled allowing Davies to sidefoot into the roof of the net from a few yards. Roles were reversed for the third, with Davies' delightful flick setting Borgetti free. The Mexican turned inside Perry before beating Myhre at his near post.

Charlton were lucky to reach half-time without conceding again, whereupon Curbishley withdrew Darren Ambrose and Dennis Rommedahl - judged to be the worst of a bad bunch.

They did commit more men forward in the second half, but the only noticeable difference was the extra space it gave Nakata. They did pull a goal back through a late Darren Bent penalty after Jussi Jaaskelainen and Jay Bothroyd had challenged for a cross - but it made no difference.

After Davies added a late fourth for Bolton, Curbishley will be hoping the same can be said for the afternoon as a whole with regard to his England chances.

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