Terry's 'handball' let-off has Chelsea closing in on the title

Anelka grabs the vital goal in 1-0 win to put Blues four points clear at the top as Bolton rage over two penalty denials
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The Independent Football

The Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle last night launched a stinging attack on referee Lee Probert for denying his side two penalties against Chelsea and accused Didier Drogba of being a "world class volleyball player" for his first-half handball.

Chelsea's 1-0 victory through Nicolas Anelka's 43rd minute goal puts them firmly in control of the title race, four points ahead of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League with four games left to play in the season. But the night was not without controversy after Coyle claimed that Probert had turned down two "stonewall penalties" for Bolton.

Coyle, whose team stay 15th in the Premier League, claimed that Drogba handled Matt Taylor's cross in the first half and that John Terry did the same with Chung-yong Lee's ball into the Chelsea area just after the hour. Coyle said: "We didn't need any luck. We only needed the officials to give the big decisions right.

"There were two stonewall penalties out there for handballs. The first one when Drogba handballs in the area. I know Drogba is a world-class player, but Drogba could play world-class volleyball for anybody on that evidence.

"Then there's the second one when John Terry handles it. The assistant referee says it hit his shoulder, but it's a clear penalty. He must have a shoulder that stretches down to his ankles in that case. These are big decisions. The first one was at 0-0, the second might have got us a point.

"That's not unlucky. The referee has not been helped by his assistants if he's not in a good position to see it. I can accept it if they've not seen it. The first one I don't know [whether the referee saw it]. The [incident in the] second half, he said it hit John Terry's shoulder. That has not happened, so that is a poor decision on his part.

"I can't recall any favourable decisions for us since I came to Bolton Wanderers. I can recall a few that have gone against us. They're four points clear, if Chelsea continue to get those decisions I'm sure they'll be winning the title."

"It is hard to take. If it was a game in which we had been rolled over 4-0 or 5-0, fair enough. But we could have taken points had those decisions gone for us. We're fighting for our lives, so that's doubly disappointing."

Carlo Ancelotti refused to comment on the decisions of Probert who was a late appointment after Chris Foy was rendered ineligible when he was selected to take charge of the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Portsmouth. The Chelsea manager said that his side deserved to win the game.

He said: "Bolton played a tough game and they put in a lot of long balls. We had to win the second ball and we did that. We had 21 shots, so we deserved to win. There's no debate about this. For me, it was a very good performance

"We have more possibility to win [the title] than, with respect, Manchester United and Arsenal but we are not sure of it. We have to play four tough games. We have a derby on Saturday against Tottenham which won't be an easy game. We are excited, but we know that we have to fight again."