Frustrated Coyle blasts players’ lack of character

BOLTON boss Owen Coyle blasted his players for a lack of character after an eighth defeat in nine Premier League matches at the Reebok Stadium left them deep in relegation trouble.

The Trotters ended a run of five straight losses with victory at Blackburn in midweek to climb off the bottom, but they could not follow that up as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Newcastle.

After a poor first-half, the game was settled inside three minutes midway through the second as Hatem Ben Arfa opened the scoring in the 69th minute and Demba Ba swiftly added his 14th goal of the season.

Coyle’s anger was fuelled by mistakes in the build-up to both goals, with Chris Eagles giving the ball away for the first and Paul Robinson for the second.

The Scot said: “I thought in the first 15 minutes Newcastle started better but then we really grew into the game, finished the first-half really strongly and looked as if we could go in front, and then started the second-half in the same manner.

“Until the first goal Newcastle had offered no threat in the second-half and we looked like we could go on to win the game but then we’ve given the ball away under no pressure. Soft is probably an understatement. Take nothing away from the cutback and the finish, that was exquisite. Newcastle have been doing that all season because they’ve got terrific offensive players who can hurt you, but prior to that the threat was minimal.

“We’ve given it away cheaply, but when that happens and you’re 1-0 down with 20 minutes left, you’re looking for a bit of character, and we had that from a few but not enough. One or two were fragile, maybe lacking confidence, but there should be no need for that coming off a win the other night and the performance.

“But then within two minutes they get the second and to say it was an unforced error, it was ridiculous. It was a horrible mistake. (Gabriel) Obertan then raids down the right, Demba Ba gets a touch, Gary (Cahill’s) gone to block it and it’s spun up into the top corner, which probably sums up our little bit of bad luck.”

Newcastle went into the game having picked up only two points from six games, and the first-half showcased two teams struggling for form, with the only chances coming from one free-kick apiece.

Bolton looked livelier at the start of the second-half and Martin Petrov lashed a shot just wide before the deadlock was broken in the 69th minute as Newcastle seized on Eagles’ error and Ryan Taylor crossed for Ben Arfa to volley in expertly.

It was the Frenchman’s first goal in more than a year, much of which he has spent battling back from a broken leg, and things rapidly got worse for Bolton as Robinson inexplicably gave the ball away and Obertan crossed for Ba to clip home.

Toon boss Alan Pardew was delighted to put their bad run, and especially last weekend’s home defeat by West Brom, behind them, and felt the return of defender Mike Williamson after four months out with an ankle injury was key.

“We put ourselves under pressure with the West Brom result so it was important today that we gave a more disciplined performance and I think we did that,” said Pardew.

“We felt from the last two games that four points would have been really pleasing. We didn’t manage to get anything against West Brom but we got three very valuable ones today.”

BOLTON: Jaaskelainen, Boyata, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Mark Davies, Reo-Coker, Muamba (Eagles 66), Petrov, Klasnic (Sanli 77), Ngog (Kevin Davies 76).

NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Ryan Taylor, Obertan (Shola Ameobi 84), Cabaye (Perch 88), Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Best (Ben Arfa 61).

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

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