Late goal cancels out McCartney volley

George McCartney's first goal for West Ham United was not enough to secure victory at the Boleyn Ground after Kevin Nolan levelled for Bolton Wanderers two minutes into stoppage time.

The Northern Ireland international's spectacular 20th-minute volley looked all set to be the difference between the two sides but, after Bolton twice struck the woodwork, Nolan rescued the visitors with just seconds remaining.

Back in May, West Ham United's 3-1 victory against Wanderers in their penultimate game of the season had given them real hope in their subsequently successful quest for survival. But this time around it was Bolton, who were suffering and, indeed, with just a late-August win over Reading and a subsequent trio of draws, the visitors - without the injured Nicolas Anelka - arrived at the Boleyn Ground languishing in 19th spot.

Having suffered a Carling Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City on Wednesday, Gary Megson made five changes for his third game in charge as Nicky Hunt, Kevin Davies, Ricardo Gardner plus veterans Ivan Campo and Gary Speed returned to the Bolton lineup.

West Ham United had, of course, enjoyed, better Carling Cup cheer and, following his side's last-gasp win at Coventry City, Curbishley made three switches as Robert Green replaced substitute Richard Wright, while Nolberto Solano and Danny Gabbidon came in for the injured Mark Noble (groin) and Anton Ferdinand (hamstring).

Curbishley's men started the brightest with both Matthew Etherington and Solano firing in awkward, near-post crosses, while at the other end Campo curled a 20-yard free-kick inches wide, after Gabbidon fouled lone-striker Davies. With the hosts dominating, the Spaniard's effort was mere, token resistance and, sure enough, on 19 minutes, the hosts were celebrating McCartney's expertly-executed strike.

With Bolton failing to clear Solano's right-wing corner, Matthew Upson's goalbound prod was blocked but the visitors' relief was shortlived, for the central defender then nodded the ball into McCartney's path. He then ended the rally of penalty box pinball with an acrobatic, eight-yard, right-footed volley that gave Jussi Jaaskelainen absolutely no chance.

Having given his side the lead, McCartney then preserved it in equally spectacular fashion, just two minutes later, when he headed El Hadji Diouf's deflected, looping 12-yarder off the line to the relief of the grateful Green. That was the catalyst for Bolton to enjoy their best spell, as Speed sent a rising 18-yard shot scorching over the bar, before the base of Green's left-hand post prevented Daniel Guthrie from equalising with a 20-yard grass-cutter.

Megson brought on Lubomir Michalik for Abdoulaye Meite at the interval and shortly afterwards, Curbishley was forced to make a reshuffle when Jonathan Spector entered the fray after Hayden Mullins was forced off. With Bolton kicking off the second period in a more positive mood, both Nicky Hunt and Speed tested Green with long-range efforts and, in reply, the busy Solano forced Jaaskelainen to turn his low 20-yarder aside.

Midway through the half, Gardner came to his goalkeeper's rescue, when he foiled Carlton Cole at the near post, as pair raced in to meet the escaping Luis Boa Morte's byline cross towards the near post. And moments later, the duo were in the thick of things, once more, when the breaking Etherington picked out the supporting Cole, whose low, first-time shot was parried by the exposed Jaaskelainen before Gardner's intervention forced the home striker to bundle the rebound just wide.

Shortly afterwards, the unlucky Cole departed to a hearty reception from the home fans amongst the 33,867 crowd as Henri Camara joined the action. Following the late scares of Davies nodding Guthrie's pinpoint cross on to the top of Green's bar and Spector clearing off the line, with Pantsil booked in between, Nolan struck two minutes into added time, when he steered a flick-on beyond the despairing dive of Green.

West Ham United: Green, Neill (c), Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney, Solano, Bowyer (Pantsil 85), Mullins (Spector 50), Etherington, Boa Morte, Cole (Camara 72)
Subs not used: Wright, Reid

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (McCann 82), A O'Brien, Meite (Michalik 46), Gardner, Nolan (c), Speed (Samuel 78), Campo, Guthrie, Davies, Diouf
Subs not used: Habsi, Stelios