Charlton fail to entice as Nolan delights Bolton

Charlton Athletic 0 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

That, anyway, is not Curbishley's main concern: four home games without a victory suggests a problem far more damaging to their season than their public image.

Victory over Chelsea in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, and the visit of Prince William on Friday, generated pride, but if that had not dissipated after a turgid first half, it certainly had once Kevin Nolan scored the only goal after 72 minutes. Curbishley, to his credit, refused to blame either the penalty shoot-out or the prince for a dreadfully flat performance.

"I can't complain," he said. "I know ours was a massive game and we had extra time, but they played on Wednesday as well. We just never got going, but they've had one shot and won the game, while we had three decent chances."

Charlton were disadvantaged by the absence of Darren Bent with a heavy cold. His replacement, Jay Bothroyd, had not started a game this season, and it showed. Having turned neatly away from Radhi Jaidi and Bruno N'Gotty in the sixth minute, he rather spoiled the effect by producing an air shot as his standing foot nudged the ball embarrassingly out of range.

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, sympathised with his opposite number. It was a phone call from him that had persuaded Curbishley to carry on last season following a dispiriting defeat to Manchester United, and Allardyce said: "They were on a high in the first half, but the positive thing is we dug in and made it difficult for them, didn't allow them to create chances.

"We had to hope the efforts Charlton had put in on Wednesday would tell, and I think that was the case. We were just waiting for the right opportunity to score, and although it was fortunate, we took it. We then defended very stoutly and our keeper made a magnificent save."

Although Jussi Jasskelainen's tip-over from Bryan Hughes's header three minutes from time preserved the points, he had not had a save to make until the 71st minute, when he parried an effort from his fellow Finn Jonatan Johansson. Within 60 seconds of the game's first meaningful shot on target, Bolton took the lead, although, in keeping with the low standard, Abdoulaye Faye's deflected drive was initially heading well wide.

Stephan Andersen reacted superbly to change direction, but Hidetoshi Nakata got to the loose ball first, and crossed for Nolan to nudge in his fifth of the season from close range.

"This season he's come of age," Allardyce said of his captain. "His overall game has improved 10 to 20 per cent, and his goals ratio is looking good again."

So too is Bolton's League position. The win lifted them above Charlton, who must now deal with the fact that not only are they apparently unsexy, they are not in a Champions' League spot either.