Bolton Wanderers held on for a priceless 2-1 win over West Ham United that lifted the gloom around the Reebok Stadium. Gary Megson's side were in danger of plunging into the relegation battle after a miserable run of results, but they eased those fears thanks to a fast start against the Hammers.
Matt Taylor and Kevin Davies scored two goals in two minutes early in the first half and, although Scott Parker got one back for West Ham in the second half, the hosts were just able to reach the final whistle with their lead intact. The win was only Bolton's second success in nine attempts, while West Ham are now without a victory in four matches.
Both managers had received a pre-match boost as key players returned from injury. Megson welcomed back Swedish striker Johan Elmander and midfielder Gavin McCann, while Gianfranco Zola was relieved that England forward Carlton Cole had shaken off an ankle injury.
After four defeats in their last six matches, Megson finally snapped following Bolton's 3-0 thrashing at Everton and subjected his players to a furious tirade. Telling his under-performing stars a few home truths seemed to have the desired effect, as they tore into West Ham.
They took the lead in the tenth minute with a fine strike from Taylor, who has developed a happy knack of scoring stunning long-range goals. He curled his effort into the corner from 20 yards, after Jack Collison had been penalised for a challenge on Mark Davies.
Bolton were firing on all cylinders and extended their lead a minute later. Elmander showed neat footwork before passing to Davies and the Bolton captain swept home his tenth goal of the season. West Ham's day took a turn for the worse in the 15th minute when defender James Collins was stretchered off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
However, the Hammers, unbeaten in their previous seven away league matches, were in no mood to surrender without a fight. David Di Michele had a chance to get the Zola's side back in the match when he found space at the back post in the 29th minute, but the Italian dragged his effort wide. Di Michele had another equally good chance after surging to the penalty area, but with only Jussi Jaaskelainen to beat, he shot well wide.
West Ham almost pulled a goal back two minutes into the second half when Taylor cleared Cole's effort off the line after James Tomkins had headed the ball on. Zola sent on Savio Nsereko for Collison in a bid to liven up his forward line and got an immediate reward in the 66th minute.
Jonathon Spector delivered the cross and Parker timed his run to perfection to knock the ball past Jaaskelainen. West Ham had one last chance to salvage a point when Di Michele steered his effort goalwards, but Gary Cahill cleared it off the line.