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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 15:02 GMT
Bolton edge out Newcastle
Michael Ricketts looked back to his best
Ricketts powers through to score Bolton's fourth
Bolton 4-3 Newcastle

Two goals from a rejuvenated Michael Ricketts helped Bolton move out of the bottom three with a narrow win over Newcastle in a thrilling game at the Reebok Stadium.

It was only Bolton's second home win of the season and was ample reward for some excellent attacking football from Sam Allardyce's men.

Key moments
5 mins: Okocha puts Bolton in the lead
8 mins: Shearer equalises straight away
9 mins: Gardner restores Bolton's advantage
45 mins:Ricketts extends Bolton lead
63 mins:Ricketts strikes again
71 mins: Ameobi gives Magpies hope
79 mins: Shearer worries Bolton fans
Goals from Jay-Jay Okocha and Ricardo Gardner, as well as Ricketts' double, put Bolton into a 4-1 lead.

But a Newcastle fightback - with two goals from Alan Shearer and another from Shola Ameobi - rocked the home team.

Bolton were left clinging on to their one-goal advantage and - after three minutes of injury time - they were relieved to hear the final whistle to collect a crucial three points.

Okocha gave Bolton the perfect start, putting them into the lead after just five minutes with a well-struck shot into the top corner.

Bolton's joy did not last long though, and Shearer's clinical strike on eight minutes put the Magpies back in the game.

But just 90 seconds later, a stunning 25-yard free-kick from Gardner restored Bolton's advantage and put the Wanderers in control.

Playing with renewed confidence, Bolton had plenty of chances to extend their lead further with Ricketts and Gudni Bergsson going close and their positive approach was rewarded just before the break.

Newcastle's Alan Shearer
Shearer celebrates his opener after seven minutes
Ricketts well-placed header put Bolton two in front at the break, and the striker - who looked back to top form throughout - seemingly put the game beyond reach in the 63rd minute.

Latching onto Gary Speed's poor backpass, he stroked the ball past Shay Given to Bolton 4-1 up.

But nothing is ever that straightforward at the Reebok.

Shola Ameobi's goal in the 71st minute - deflected off Dyer past an unfortunate Jussi Jaaskelainen - gave Newcastle some hope.

Shearer hit another scorcher from 25 yards out after 79 minutes from Laurent Robert's short free-kick - the former England man's 350th career goal - to ensure a nervous final 10 minutes for the home fans.

But his efforts were not quite enough to make up for a poor display at the back from Newcastle's defenders.



Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Charlton, Bergsson, Whitlow, Barness, Frandsen, Okocha, Djorkaeff (Nolan 66), Gardner, Pedersen (Facey 75), Ricketts.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Campo, Tofting.

Booked: Frandsen.

Newcastle: Given, Griffin, O'Brien, Caldwell, Hughes, Solano (Jenas 73), Dyer, Speed, Robert, Ameobi (LuaLua 73), Shearer.
Subs Not Used: Bellamy, Harper, Dabizas.

Booked: Shearer, LuaLua.

Attendance: 27,314

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Alan Biggs
"This was cracking entertainment"
 Bolton boss Sam Allardyce
"It was a hard-earned Christmas present"
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