When this match between Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers reached about the 70 minute mark, I began to wonder if I would have anything to write about at all. Both teams looked sluggish (rightly so, they've each played games just a couple of days ago), and neither looked like they wanted to score. Bolton had a couple of chances, two of which were met with fantastic saves by Tim Krul, but mostly they seemed content to pass the ball around the back and occasionally slide in behind a Toon player, if only just to convince themselves that they were involved in a competitive match. Newcastle, for their part, lacked creativity, imagination, and hustle. It was a match that seemed doomed for a 0-0 draw, which would have certainly been a poor result for the Magpies.
It's during games like these that individual effort can shine through and make a humongous difference, and though it appeared that nobody was up for the challenge, Hatem Ben Arfa was able to create some magic when he knifed through the middle of the Bolton defense and finished neatly in the bottom corner when Adam Bogdan came out to try to cut down the angle. The pressure lifted off of Newcastle's shoulders, and then they showed why the 4-3-3 is so dangerous when Shola Ameobi tore off down the right side on the counter and played a brilliant cross that Papiss Cisse only had to put a foot on to score.
It looked like Newcastle might have been headed for disappointment early, but Tim Krul's brilliance supported by brave defending from Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson (who acquitted himself quite well today) kept the team in it long enough for the attackers to wake up and finish the job. A professional win today. Absolutely no cause for alarm.