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  • Bolton 0-2 Blackburn: Dunn effect

    David Dunn's strike and a calamitous own-goal by Sam Ricketts gave absent boss Sam Allardyce a lift as Blackburn beat local rivals Bolton 2-0 in the Lancashire derby at the Reebok Stadium.

    Allardyce is facing heart surgery and was on strict doctor's orders not to even watch the game on television as he prepares for an operation on Friday.

    Assuming he took his physician's advice, he missed his side finally break their dismal away record, which had previously seen them lose 10 consecutive games on the road.

    Man of the match Dunn opened the scoring with a delightful strike just after the half-hour mark before Ricketts headed into his own net with 17 minutes remaining to effectively settle the game.

    Rovers' first away win of the season - indeed their first since March - saw them rise to the relative safety of 11th place.

    But the result for Bolton, who fell to their fourth defeat in five games, was altogether less promising - Gary Megson's side end the weekend in the relegation zone.

    With Allardyce elsewhere, his assistant Neil McDonald took charge for the day and he will be able to report back on an inspirational display from Dunn.

    The sole creative force of this Blackburn side, Dunn was again at the centre of most of Rovers' attacking play.

    Early on, he volleyed narrowly wide of the mark before he saw a header cleared off the line by Gary Cahill on 23 minutes.

    So, when the opener came, the scorer's identity came as no surprise. It a lovely strike, the Blackburn-born player digging out a curling first-time effort that beat Jussi Jaaskelainen and nestled in the far corner.

    The goal came just seconds after Bolton had themselves been denied the opener by the angle of post and bar, Mathew Taylor's free-kick deflecting onto the woodwork off Ryan Nelsen's outstretched boot. Such are the margins between success and failure.

    Taylor, playing on the Bolton right, was heavily involved during the opening period, although his other two notable contributions revealed a real lack of cutting edge in front of goal - the first chance a miscued volley after Gael Givet allowed him in behind and the second a header over the bar from two yards out.

    Otherwise, Allardyce did not miss much during a fitful opening period, typical of a derby match involving two sides struggling in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

    The second half was altogether a more entertaining affair, as Blackburn pushed forward in search of a second goal that would kill the game off.

    Bolton midfielder Gavin McCann was twice forced to clear off the line, from El Hadji Diouf and Nelsen, either side of Dunn's clever through pass for Franco Di Santo, who could only fire against Jaaskelainen.

    Taylor did manage to bring Robinson into action with a crisp strike from the edge of the penalty area on 72 minutes, but soon after a horrible lack of communication between Jaaskelainen and Ricketts put the game out of Bolton's reach.

    Ricketts did not see his keeper come to claim the same ball and only realised the Finn was off his line after he had headed back towards goal. The ball bounced into the empty net, prompting the inevitable recriminations in the Bolton back line, while Rovers celebrated their second goal of the game - and just their fifth away goal of the season.

    Credit to Bolton, they refused to accept defeat and substitute Ivan Klasnic went close to pulling one back on 88 minutes. But having rounded Robinson, his effort on goal was cleared off the line by Lars Jacobsen.

    It proved to be the last meaningful action of the game, as Blackburn held firm to secure Lancastrian bragging rights for the immediate future - and give Allardyce a real tonic.
    Mike Hytner / Eurosport



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