Everton gifted all the glory by Jaidi

Everton 3 - Bolton Wanderers 2

A late own-goal from their Tunisian defender, Radhi Jaidi, sent Bolton home empty-handed from Goodison after a pulsating contest - between two of the season's surprise teams - from which Wanderers deserved something.

Jaidi inadvertently got in the way of a speculative shot from the Everton substitute, Leon Osman, after a headed clearance from a corner had dropped for him. A big deflection left Jussi Jaaskelainen helpless and Bolton, who had been just seven points behind Everton in the race for unlikely European places, were beaten. The Blues will now go into the derby against Liverpool with more wins than they achieved all last season.

If it was a galling way to lose for Bolton then the manner in which Everton had drawn level was even more infuriating. Jaidi had fouled Duncan Ferguson, brought in for his first Premiership start of the season to play Bolton at their own aerial game, from the edge of the penalty area. Thomas Gravesen's free-kick went straight into the wall. The referee, Howard Webb, ruled that Jay-Jay Okocha had encroached and ordered it to be retaken. This time the wall was back well beyond the statutory minimum and Gravesen's second attempt found a way around the edge into the bottom corner of Jaaskelainen's net.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, felt that it was just one incident in which his side had had a rough deal from the referee. "The referee had a big influence on the result for us," he said. "He's in his first season in the Premiership and he looks like he couldn't cope with the pressure."

That is one charge that could not be levelled at Everton, who continue to be branded as a team higher in the division than their ability justifies, but who showed tremendous determination and character in this match. "That was our best win of the season", said their manager, David Moyes.

For Bolton, this was a defeat which was harsh on Davies, the hard-working striker who does not always get the end result his efforts deserve, but who ranks as one of Allardyce's shrewdest signings.

He had put Bolton ahead after 10 minutes with a goal which, like so many they have scored this season, came from a well-worked set piece. Stelios Giannakopoulos put over an in-swinging corner from the left; Nigel Martyn, under pressure from Jaidi, could only flap it out from under his crossbar and Davies struck a clean volley through the ruck of players.

It was not until first-half injury time that Everton drew level. Alessandro Pistone put in a deep, early cross from the left and Ferguson justified his selection by getting free to power in a header to which Jaaskelainen could only get a hand.

If Bolton had gone behind after the break it would have been the fault of Ivan Campo, who lost the ball to the outstanding Gravesen with a piece of showboating. Gravesen sent Marcus Bent clear, but his shot skimmed past the far post.

As an old-fashioned, all-action game began to simmer more vigorously, Davies headed against the bar from Bruno N'Gotty's cross and Okocha volleyed the rebound over the top. Just before the hour, Davies was there again to restore Wanderers' lead. Nicky Hunt's long cross from the right did not look very threatening but Davies rose beyond the far post to direct a looping header over Martyn and into the other side of the goal.

If Bolton had a fatal flaw it was their failure to seize the initiative after that. Faced by a team as determined as Everton, any attempt to sit back on their lead was doomed to failure. Things were bound to go wrong - and they did.

Comments