It was billed as a match in which the losing manager would get fired, and if that is the case then it will be a much happier Christmas in the Coyle household this season than the Kean one as Bolton beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 in a relegation six pointer.
The result means Blackburn replace Bolton at the foot of the Premier League, and Rovers will be bottom at Christmas with only one team avoiding relegation from that position.
Rovers got off to a disastorous start in their crunch relegation battle after Mark Davies drove in an opener for the Trotters after just five minutes. Nigel Reo-Coker’s run into the box was blocked by Paul Robinson, but Chris Samba carelessly cleared straight to Ngog who cut back to Davies, and the 25-year-old was able to drill the ball past a crowded box and into the net.
And things went from bad to worse for the home side when Reo-Cocker struck a second for Bolton on the half-hour mark. Reo-Coker broke down the middle for Wanderers before feeding Martin Petrov on the left who crossed into the box. The ball was picked up again by Reo-Coker who neatly spun and stand-in left-back Morten Gamst Pederson put in a weak challenge which ricocheted back off the Bolton midfielder and past Robinson into the goal.
The boos were ringing around Ewood Park but Blackburn forced their way back into the game through Yakubu after 67 minutes when Hoilett, who was the best player on the pitch, paid on an inch-perfect pass calved for Yakubu to coolly dink the on-rushing Jaaskelainen.
It was the Yak’s ninth goal in 10 games, but it came too late to save Rovers and Steve Kean, whose position as manager must now be in serious doubt.
In the other game in the Premier League Wolves twice came from behind to rescue a precious point in their battle for Premier League survival against Norwich City at Molineux.
Andrew Surman broke the deadlock only for Wolves’ Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who replaced the axed Kevin Doyle, to level before half-time. Substitute Simeon Jackson restored Norwich’s lead with his first touch, but Ronald Zubar’s first goal of the campaign rescued a 2-2 draw and Wolves from a second home defeat in four days.