Davies always at home in the discomfort zone

Bolton Wanderers 2 West Ham United 1
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The Independent Football

Gary Megson was thinking of England but no one could accuse him, unlike Lady Alice Hillingdon who is attributed with the original quote, of lying back. The Bolton Wanderers manager has a temporary fixation about his players and international call-ups.

His programme notes trumpeted the virtues of Matt Taylor and after this victory, Bolton’s second in eight Premier League matches, Kevin Davies was given his share of fanfares too. “He works his socks off, he competes all over the show,” Megson said.

These are familiar refrains. Davies, muscular and energetic, has been making life uncomfortable for defenders for a decade, but Megson’s call has coincided with a sudden acceleration in his scoring rate. “If that’s the kind of player you want there isn’t a better one,” Megson said. “He gets hold of the ball, he competes and even if he doesn’t win the ball the centre-half isn’t going to be able to head it back 15 yards. I’m not criticising anyone with England, because they do come to the games. They have a lot of talent to choose from, but if they are looking for a player of that ilk you won’t find a better one than Kevin Davies.”

Davies scored his ninth goal of the season and when he was held up against West Ham United’s Carlton Cole, who did make the England squad, the comparison was flattering. “What I was told when I first came here was that he’s a centre-forward who doesn’t score goals,” Megson said. “Well, he does if we get him in the right places.”

Bolton did that for their second goal as they sliced through the West Ham defence with a series of quick passes before Davies swept in a shot from Johan Elmander’s pass. It was beautifully executed and was the high-water mark for Bolton, who spent the next 79 minutes being thankful for the profligacy of Cole, David Di Michele and Mark Noble. Afterwards, the West Ham manager, Gianfranco Zola, drew consolation from the number of chances, but a reflection of the mood of the travelling supporters came with the snorting retort from a fan: “A goldfish has a better memory of scoring a goal than Di Michele.”

Goals: Taylor (10) 1-0; K Davies (11) 2-0; Parker (66) 2-1.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Puygrenier (A O’Brien, 73), Samuel; K Davies, M Davies, McCann, Gardner, Taylor; Elmander (Muamba, 76). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Smolarek, Basham, Makuklua, Shittu.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Spector (Sears, 85), Collins (Tomkins, 16), Upson, Ilunga; Behrami, Noble, Parker, Collison (Nsereko, 62); Di Michele, Cole. Substitutes not used: Lastuvka (gk), Lopez, Kovac, Tristan.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).

Booked: West Ham Upson, Noble.

Man of the match: Parker.

Attendance: 21,245.