Newcastle inspired by Dyer

Newcastle United 2 - Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

There has been a lot of talk of springboards and launch pads at James' Park recently, but until an inspired second-half performance by Kieron Dyer, Newcastle United did nothing more than tread water against Bolton Wanderers yesterday.

There has been a lot of talk of springboards and launch pads at James' Park recently, but until an inspired second-half performance by Kieron Dyer, Newcastle United did nothing more than tread water against Bolton Wanderers yesterday.

Having taken the lead through a Lee Bowyer header, the home side were pegged back before the break, Stelios Giannakopoulos capitalising on the sort of shoddy defending at the heart of the Newcastle back four which has played such a big part in their failings this season.

Whether three successive cup wins, including the 1-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend, has provided renewed cause for optimism, or merely quelled a fans revolt, is a moot point, but the frustration was never far away here.

While the success of Souness' first season in charge will ultimately depend on prolonging his side's interest in the FA and Uefa Cups, his side desperately needed to carry their recent cup form into the Premiership if the renaissance was to continue. At half-time, though, it looked like the momentum had already been lost.

Bolton's players left the field with a bounce in their step, Giannakopoulos' goal coming in the middle of a sustained period of pressure in which their five-man midfield dominated.

However, they were quickly knocked out of the comfort zone by Dyer. With Souness instructing his players to raise the tempo, the rejuvenated England international took centre stage, prompting his side's attacks with increasing effect.

With St James' Park eerily silent, the midfielder finally brought the home crowd to their feet by losing his. Picking the ball up well inside his own half, he ran the length of the pitch only for Fernando Hierro's cynical foul to send him crashing to the turf.

It might have earned the defender a red card, but when it did not, the sense of injustice only seemed to inspire the crowd and Souness' side.

Laurent Robert, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Bowyer all went close before Newcastle finally made the pressure count, Alan Shearer's shot falling to Dyer who whacked the ball past Bolton's Jussi Jaaskelainen.

"I thought Kieron Dyer was exceptional," said Souness. "His goal rounded off things perfectly for him. He made a mistake when he refused to play at the start of the season, but he has won back the crowd and I'm delighted with him."

Goals: Bowyer (35) 1-0; Giannakopoulos (41) 1-1; Dyer (68) 2-1.

Newcastle United (4-4-2) Given; Carr, Boumsong, Bramble, Babayaro; Dyer, Bowyer, Faye, Robert (Jenas, 78); Ameobi, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Hughes, Milner, Butt.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Hunt (Fadiga, 14), Ben Haim, N'Gotty, Candela; Giannakopoulos, Speed, Hierro (Campo, 64), Okocha, Gardner; Davies. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Jaidi, Vaz Te.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

Man of the match: Dyer.

Attendance: 50, 430.

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