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Saturday 19 April 2014

On this day in 2003: Okocha boosts Bolton survival hopes

Looking back at Premier League history, we recall Bolton’s important 1-0 win over West Ham

Jay Jay Okocha’s outrageous skills were admired by football fans throughout the country - and made him an outright legend at Bolton.

Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.

19 April 2003 - Bolton Wanderers 1-0 West Ham United

Bolton Wanderers put six points between themselves and opponents West Ham United, in the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, as Jay-Jay Okocha’s goal boosted the home side's chances of avoiding the drop.

Okocha struck in the 38th minute for his sixth goal of the season to earn Bolton their third successive home win and leave them still fourth from bottom. West Ham defender Ian Pearce was sent off in injury-time.

Both sides made a nervous start with Frederic Kanoute and Jermain Defoe failing to make the most of early chances for the visitors while Henrik Pedersen and Okocha could not score from similar opportunities at the other end. Okocha came within a whisker of putting Bolton ahead in the 12th minute when his 20-yard shot rattled a post.

The Nigeria playmaker, whose flamboyant style and ability to score magnificent goals earned him Cult Hero status at Bolton, broke the deadlock when he picked up a loose ball in the centre circle and ran at the retreating West Ham defence before unleashing a powerful strike into the top corner from outside the box.

West Ham manager Glenn Roeder brought on Les Ferdinand in the 65th minute and he set up chances for Kanoute and Defoe, which they could not convert.

Okocha almost doubled the lead with a fierce shot that flew over before he was replaced by Pierre-Yves Andre. It was a foul on his replacement by Pearce in the final minute that earned the Hammers defender a red card.

“We have not secured our place in the Premier League yet," Bolton manager Sam Allardyce said. "We are a lot closer to it but I don’t want my players celebrating and believing we are there.”

West Ham manager Roeder conceded that “we now need other teams to help us out.”

Bolton finished the season with three draws and a final-day victory over Middlesbrough to survive and finish two points ahead of West Ham, who were relegated despite picking up 10 points from their final four matches.

  • Jay Jay Okocha is congratulated after scoring the winner for Bolton against West Ham

  • The Nigeria international ran from the halfway line before superbly firing home

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com looks back through the annals of history of the competition
  • A memorable event or match from each day of the year will be selected
  • We remember when Bolton moved six points clear of the relegation zone with a win over West Ham