Roberts seals late Blackburn win


Bolton 1-2 Blackburn:  Bolton began the most testing period of their Barclays Premier League season so far with a crushing late defeat at home to Lancashire rivals Blackburn.

With Nicolas Anelka just a fond memory and El-Hadji Diouf away on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal, Gary Megson's side have a gaping hole in the firepower department.

That was evident at the Reebok Stadium today, despite captain Kevin Nolan's impressive first-half opener.

Christopher Samba headed an equaliser within 10 minutes of the break before Jason Roberts powered forward to hit a 90th-minute winner in front of a crowd of 18,315.

Kevin Davies returned following a one-match ban and Anelka's big-money move to Chelsea saw him move back to his preferred central role for Bolton. Roque Santa Cruz, David Dunn, Steven Reid and Andre Ooijer were all included by Blackburn boss Mark Hughes.

Bolton were looking to chalk up their fifth successive home league victory and Ivan Campo had Blackburn on the back foot in the fifth minute with a long throw.

Davies got away from his marker and flicked the ball on but Ooijer was able to make the clearance.

Blackburn responded and David Bentley saw his 20-yard drive well taken by goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Then Campo rattled in a shot from distance that whistled over Brad Friedel's bar.

Bentley almost put Blackburn ahead in the 17th minute with a fine free-kick that just curled over the bar.

Bolton's new recruit Tamir Cohen tried to pick out Stelios Giannakopoulos at the back post in the 22nd minute but Friedel came out to make the interception.

Abdoulaye Meite, like Diouf, was also away on African Nations Cup duty but Lubomir Michalik was doing a good job of keeping Santa Cruz quiet as half-time approached.

Blackburn, however, looked dangerous on the counter attack, with Bentley playing a prominent role in the first half.

The travelling fans gave the winger unqualified support at the Reebok Stadium. There were constant cries of 'Bentley for England' every time he was on the ball.

However Bolton made the breakthrough after 43 minutes with a spectacular effort from Nolan.

The skipper hooked the ball over his shoulder from an acute angle following a crossfield ball from Joey O'Brien for his fourth goal of the season.

Blackburn started the second half brightly in an attempt to get the equaliser.

Ooijer picked out Santa Cruz with a good through ball in the 46th minute but his cross was cut out by Nolan.

Two minutes later Santa Cruz found himself clear in front of goal but Jaaskelainen parried his well struck effort to safety.

Blackburn drew level in the 53rd minute when Samba got on the end of Bentley's corner to head home at the back post.

Jaaskelainen was left disappointed after changing his mind about coming for Bentley's delivery.

Bolton boss Gary Megson changed things around four minutes later when Gavin McCann replaced Campo.

Blackburn had raised the tempo and O'Brien did well to block Morten Gamst Pedersen's effort in the 59th minute following a cross from Bentley.

Substitute Christian Wilhelmsson was introduced by Megson and picked out Stelios at the back post. However, the Greece winger had strayed offside and the move broke down.

Pedersen should have put Blackburn ahead in the 70th minute but dragged his effort wide from inside the six-yard area.

Blackburn were looking to seal all three points and Roberts replaced the ineffective Benni McCarthy up front in the 77th minute.

Bentley was left fuming at a challenge by substitute McCann, which referee Mike Dean adjudged was fair.

Bentley almost put them ahead in the 83rd minute but Jaaskelainen managed to get a hand to his free-kick at the last minute.

Roberts sealed victory for Blackburn on the stroke of full-time when he raced on to a flick from Santa Cruz and saw his effort take a slight deflection off O'Brien.