Davies adds refinement for walking wounded

Bolton Wanderers 1 - Crystal Palace 0
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The Independent Football

Crystal Palace have never won a League match at Bolton and rarely looked like putting an end to that miserable statistic after falling behind on the stroke of half-time. Kevin Davies's header proved the decisive goal in a game that never seemed to recover from an incident that saw Gary Speed and Ivan Campo clash heads, both men incurring bloody wounds.

That was within the first quarter of an hour and had Palace not contrived to concede what will probably prove to be the simplest goal Bolton will score all season, they might well have claimed a point from a match of limited entertainment value. As it was they slumped to a sixth League defeat as Bolton's excellent start to the season continued.

Although Davies and Stelios Giannakopoulos both went close with long-range efforts, Bolton only threatened fitfully. The crowd reserved the biggest cheer for the introduction of their latest exotic addition, Khalilou Fadiga, the Senegalese midfielder replacing his compatriot, El Hadji Diouf, with 10 minutes remaining. Jay-Jay Okocha had failed to recover from his groin injury, so Diouf continued in his stead, even emulating some of the Nigerian's dribbling skills.

Palace, having won their first Premiership game of the season at the eighth attempt, were unsurprisingly unchanged but could have fallen behind within a minute. Radhi Jaidi saw his header flash beyond the far post following a Campo corner.

As the game acquired a free-flowing early pattern, Palace looked the more coherent unit. After Nicky Hunt had held back Joonas Kolkka, Ben Watson saw his free-kick deflected just wide with Jussi Jaaskelainen flat-footed.

Bolton were then forced into a reshuffle following that clash of heads between Speed and Campo. The Spaniard was unable to continue, but the redoubtable Speed was back in action as soon as he could find a replacement for his blood-stained shirt. If the time that took was anything to go by, he must have had to visit the club shop to find a replica. After another five minutes he required a third top, such was the seriousness of the cut above his left eye.

Meanwhile back on the pitch, the incident seemed to have destroyed the match's rhythm. Not for 20 minutes did either side fashion a chance, when Gabor Kiraly made a fine save from Giannakopolous's deflected drive. Palace fell behind to the softest of set-pieces on the stroke of half-time.

Speed's chipped free-kick from the half-way line caught out Palace's offside trap as they dashed out, and Davies cleverly steered a back header beyond Kiraly.

It was a lead that might not have lasted more than a few minutes into the second period. Jaaskelainen could only parry Watson's free kick to Danny Granville and the former full-back saw his shot from eight yards strike the crossbar. Henrik Pedersen, having replaced Campo, then saw his header tipped over as Bolton sought to claim a decisive second.