Bolton 4 Newcastle 3

Last updated : 27 December 2002 By Footymad Previewer

Bolton and Newcastle played out a seven-goal Christmas cracker of a game at the Reebok Stadium.

Three goals in the first nine minutes set the pattern for this pulsating game.

But when Wanderers moved into a 4-1 lead after 63 minutes it looked like a comfortable and welcome win for a Wanderers side that had only scored more than one goal at home this season.

The goal hero was Michael Ricketts who underlined he had ended his goal famine with two goals making it three in two games.

Yet Newcastle clawed their way back into the game making it 4-3 after 79 minutes to set up a frantic finish.

In the end the honours went to Wanderers with only their second home win of the season. Bolton boss Sam Allardyce had been highly critical of his defence this season and reckoned the only way to combat it was to find the target at the other end.

And the first 45 minutes proved him right.

Wanderers were ahead in the fifth minute, Jay-Jay Okocha driving the ball into the top corner after Ricardo Gardner had cut in from the left to set up the chance.

Three minutes later, Newcastle were level, Kieron Dyer driving down the right before squaring the ball for Alan Shearer to easily beat Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Before Newcastle had time to re-group Wanderers had re-taken the lead, Gardner firing in a 25-yard free-kick into the top left-hand corner.

After that both sides could have added to the total. Ricketts put a header inches wide with Shay Given beaten, while Dyer had a goal disallowed for offside.

Given then had to go full length to push a Gudni Bergsson goalbound shot round the post for a corner.

As it was the first half had moved into added time before the next goal came. Per Frandsen, who had been so influential in the Wanderers midfield, set up Ricketts to head in past Given.

It was the first time Wanderers had scored three at home this season and gave them the breathing space Allardyce had wanted for his relegation threatened side.

Newcastle had a chance to pull a goal back in the 61st minute when Shola Ameobi went clear into the area but Jaaskelainen won the one-on-one contest with a great save.

And Wanderers made Newcastle pay for the missed chance when they added a fourth in the 66th minute. Ricketts beat Gary Speed to give Given no chance of keeping out the shot.

Yet the goals continued to come and it was Newcastle's turn to get on the scoresheet, Ameobi firing in a 71st minute effort before Shearer fired in a 79th minute free-kick to set up a thrilling finish.