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Page last updated at 18:19 GMT, Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bolton win over Blackburn 'magnificent' - Owen Coyle

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Sending-off helped us - Coyle

Bolton manager Owen Coyle praised his players for the spirit they showed in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Blackburn.

The hosts had Mark Davies sent off on 55 minutes but still went ahead and, despite conceding a late equaliser, took the points with a dramatic winner.

"The adversity probably helped us but that's because of the spirit we have," said Coyle.

"We're nowhere near where I'd like us to eventually be. It's a work in progress but it's one we're enjoying."

Coyle succeeded Gary Megson at the Reebok Stadium in January, guiding Bolton out of the Premier League relegation zone and to a 14th-place finish.

And the Trotters have confounded all expectations this term by playing a slick brand of pass-and-move football that has helped them establish themselves in the top half of the table.

606: DEBATE
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Winning this local derby enabled them to leapfrog Tottenham into fifth - temporarily - by virtue of a superior goal difference and it was a win that owed much to their character and resolve.

After a first half lacking in entertainment, the game sparked into life when Bolton's Davies was sent off after collecting a second yellow card.

Being reduced to 10 men seemed to inspire the hosts and they took the lead through substitute Fabrice Muamba, only for fellow substitute Mame Biram Diouf to draw Blackburn level.

But straight from the kick-off Sam Ricketts sent a long ball forward and Stuart Holden collected Kevin Davies's knockdown before lashing a fine finish past Paul Robinson.

"Being at home in the local derby our intent was always to try and win three points," said Coyle. "There was not a lot in the first half, it was largely uneventful. But with the sending off at the beginning of the second half it made Blackburn favourites to win the game.

"We scored a wonderful goal to get in front but they put us under a lot of pressure. We stood up to that and then late on they came up with a wonderful equaliser.

Allardyce slams 'diabolical' goal

"But with the spirit this group have got it doesn't surprise me that we went up the other end again and scored a magnificent goal through Stuart Holden and then had to stand up, be big and brave against the pressure Blackburn put us under late on.

"Overall it's a magnificent three points."

Coyle felt the sending-off altered the game's flow but suggested Blackburn's early decision to play deep with a three-man central defence indicates just how far his side have come.

"It did change the match because Blackburn rightly felt with the extra man they could push forward to win the game," stated the 44-year-old.

"They paid us a huge compliment to begin with, setting up with a lot of men behind the ball and playing on the counter-attack.

"We actually passed the ball better with 10 men than we did with 11 and that's a source of frustration because I know we're more than capable of passing and moving the ball well.

"I think we have some terrific individual players but our strength is as a group and it was very evident again today. Every one of them put their shoulders to the wheel to help their team-mates."

Coyle was keen to pay further tribute to his players, adding: "They come into work with a smile on their face and give me everything they've got in their training, then go and try to replicate it in the matches.

The real turning point was a blatant handball by Zat Knight - in the space of one minute and 30 seconds the game turned from us maybe going 1-0 up to us defending like a bunch of old women

Sam Allardyce

"We enjoy each other's company, we enjoy working hard and that's the key to any games we win - we work our socks off.

"We have a group of players who are buying in to what we're asking, the demands we place on them and as long as they keep coming up with the goods I'll be delighted."

It was ultimately a miserable return to the Reebok Stadium for Sam Allardyce and the Rovers boss criticised his side for defending "like a bunch of old women".

The former Bolton manager pinpointed a particular moment in the match when Zat Knight appeared to handle in the penalty area moments before Bolton opened the scoring.

"The real turning point was a blatant handball by Zat Knight," said the 56-year-old. "They got a free-kick off the goal-kick and put the ball in the box and Muamba scored.

"So in the space of one minute and 30 seconds the game has turned on its head from us gaining an advantage and maybe going 1-0 up, to us defending like a bunch of old women.

"Mame got us back in the game and we didn't learn our lesson from Bolton putting balls down the middle, and immediately the ball goes down the middle from the restart.

"We all know what Kevin Davies is good at, and lo and behold none of our defenders pick up the loose ball. It's a very good finish from Holden but it's diabolical defending.

"I thought we were better when we had 11 versus 11 because they were doing nothing to threaten us. The disappointing thing is throwing the points away. At the very least we should have had a draw."



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see also
Bolton 2-1 Blackburn
12 Dec 10 |  Premier League
Sunday football as it happened
12 Dec 10 |  Football
Sunday's Premier League photos
12 Dec 10 |  Premier League


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