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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 28 Nov 09 at 17:54 PM

Report: Fulham 1 Bolton 1

Wanderers battled hard for a deserved point in West London after withstanding a second-half fightback from Fulham.

Ivan Klasnic struck after 34 minutes to give the Whites a first-half lead but Damien Duff's deflected second-half goal meant spoils were spoiled at Craven Cottage.

Although clear-cut opportunities were sparse at both ends of the field, it was nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining contest as Wanderers responded to the defeat by Blackburn with a courageous defensive effort.

Numerous times in the second half, tackles, blocks and clearances were made in a team performance that would have surely encouraged manager Gary Megson.

Ahead of kick-off, there were three changes made to the team by Gary Megson - Tamir Cohen returned from injury to replace Fabrice Muamba while there also starts for Gretar Steinsson and Ivan Klasnic in place of Sam Ricketts and Johan Elmander.

There was a lively start to proceedings as Kevin Davies was brandished with the yellow card after just two minutes for a late challenge on Brede Hangeland. It was the skipper's fellow striker Ivan Klasnic, who orchestrated Wanderers' first attack of the afternoon, however his neat slide-rule pass for Ricardo Gardner was slightly mistimed and the Jamaican's clear run on goal was halted by the linesman's flag.

It was widely expected that Wanderers would have lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, but instead Davies occupied a position on the right side of midfield with Klasnic playing as the solitary striker. Davies looked threatening when drifting in from the touchline and he had the beating of Konchesky in the air when Matt Taylor's cross was aimed to the far post. Unfortunately the header was directed just wide of the target.

After their disciplined start, Wanderers needed the help of the recalled Gretar Steinsson on two occasions either side of the 20 minute mark to keep the contest scoreless.

The Icelander's first contribution was to make a decisive goal-line clearance when a blocked attempt by Jonathan Greening landed at Nevland's feet inside the six-yard box. And then, just a couple of minutes later, Steinsson once again used his experience to sense danger and move inside from right-back to make another telling tackle.

Andy O'Brien had shot hacked away and Greening blazed over before Ivan Klasnic struck his second goal of the season to put Bolton one goal to the good on 34 minutes.

As clinical as the Croatian's finish was, the determination of Gary Cahill played a massive part in the goal. Twice the central defender launched into headers following Steinsson's throw, and his second landed at the feet of Klasnic 10 yards from goal. Having outmuscled Hangeland, he swivelled to plant a left-foot shot low into the corner of the goal past Schwarzer's dive.

The goal had stemmed from an aerial ball deep into the Fulham penalty area and there was no doubt that the home team were struggling to deal with the quality of Wanderers' delivery from wide positions and set-pieces. The most notable instance was when Matt Taylor's inswinging free-kick evaded a packed penalty area amidst an attempt at the far post from Tamir Cohen.

Fulham started the second half in the ascendancy and as with the first 45 minutes, Gary Megson's men had battle hard to preserve their lead. Twice Cahill mopped up with headers inside his own penalty area, while Damien Duff and had a thunderous free-kick blocked. Ricardo Gardner and Gavin McCann were booked in what was a very much stop-start opening ten minutes to the second half.

Clint Dempsey saw a free-kick deflected onto the roof of the net, Matt Taylor headed off the line and Zoltan Gera curled wide as Fulham piled on the pressure.

Gary Megson decided that a change was needed and Fabrice Muamba was introduced to shore up the centre of midfield. Klasnic was withdrawn and Davies moved into the lone striker's role.

Duff had been rather anonymous in the first half, but having come to life in the second, so did Jussi Jaaskelainen. The former Newcastle and Chelsea winger twice tested the Wanderers goalkeeper from distance, however on both occasions Jaaskelainen was equal to the challenge. While the first save was of undoubted quality, the second was truly world-class as the flung himself full-stretch to tip the arrowing effort over the crossbar.

Duff had threatened and he got his goal with 15 minutes remaining. Unusually, it was with his right foot as he beat Jaaskelainen from a tight angle following a swift move that had seen play switched to the right side. The slight deflection off Cahill definitely altered the path of the ball.

Having drawn level, the hosts continued to press in search of the winner, but Wanderers battled and scraped for every bit of play. Fulham were denied space inside the penalty area and were, in the main, reduced to long-range attempts.

While second half chances were rare for Bolton, Steinsson did almost pop up to net an injury time winner. Matt Taylor's free-kick was perfectly weighted, however the number 15 could only guide his header over the bar leaving Wanderers having to accept a point for their efforts.

Fulham
: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Gera, Baird, Greening, Duff, Nevland, Dempsey (Subs not used: Stockdale, Seol, Riise, Johnson, Smalling, Davies, Dikgaco)

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, O'Brien, Samuel, Gardner, Cohen, McCann, Taylor, Kevin Davies, Klasnic (Subs: Al Habsi, Knight, Muamba, Chung-Yong, Mark Davies, Elmander, Ricketts)

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