Report: Bolton 2-2 Fulham
Wanderers were denied victory late on as they drew 2-2 with Fulham at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
On a rain-sodden day at BL6, it was the visitors who opened the scoring with their first real chance of the game in the 28th minute with Luke Garbutt firing home past Ben Amos from just outside the area.
Cruel on Wanderers, they were deservedly back in the game just after the hour mark through Zach Clough as the academy graduate drilled home from 12 yards to the delight of the home faithful.
And it was two for the returning frontman just 13 minutes later with him given the simple task of tapping home Liam Feeney’s cross from a yard out, only for Ross McCormack to draw the Cottagers level with a long-range free-kick with six minutes left to earn a share of the spoils.
Darren Pratley returned to the starting XI for Wanderers after sitting out the midweek trip to Charlton with a head injury, while Zach Clough made his first home start since September.
For Fulham meanwhile, former Bolton players Tim Ream and Andrew Lonergan made their first returns to Macron Stadium since their summer departures from the club with both in the Cottagers’ starting line-up.
As the game got underway, the rained poured down on Macron Stadium’s turf with the weather ensuring that it was something of a tentative start to proceedings.
Wanderers were looking the more likely inside the opening minutes however with Gary Madine and Clough putting the Fulham defence under pressure from the outset.
After a period of Bolton attacks, the visitors first ventured forward with Luke Garbutt powering downfield after collecting the ball in his own half, but he was unable to find a man in the six yard box.
The game then fell into a fairly even affair, with each side enjoying breaks on the counter although nothing came to fruition in front of goal.
Some clever build-up play from Wanderers shortly after had the collective Bolton faithful in good voice, with each pass and build-up of pressure ensuring that confidence was growing for the home side.
Any real goalmouth action however was still lacking, with Lonergan remaining untested in the Fulham goal, with Liam Feeney’s crosses
Out of nowhere however, Wanderers found themselves behind in the 28th minute with Garbutt taking advantage of a loose ball at the feet of Prince-Desire Gouano, with the Frenchman being dispossessed by Ross McCormack who fed the youngster who fired home into Amos’ bottom hand corner.
Buoyed by their goal, Fulham almost had a second shortly after only to see Alex Kacaniklic’s shot cannon off the crossbar with the Bolton keeper a beaten man, while Moussa Dembele fired over after breaking free of the Whites’ defence.
Former Wanderer Ream almost grabbed his first goal in English football shortly before the break, but the defender’s curled effort flew just wide of Amos’ far post to the relief of the home faithful.
As the clock ran down to half time, it was the visitors who were enjoying the majority of possession and attacks with Bolton forced onto the backfoot.
On the stroke of the whistle however, Jay Spearing saw a snap-shot blocked at the death by Richard Stearman as the half ended up Fulham’s favour.
With no changes at the break for either side, it was as you were as the rain continued to hammer down at BL6.
And it was the home side who showed their intent first, with Clough being deemed to be narrowly offside inside the opening minute of the second half with the goal at his mercy.
Madine came within inches of an equalising goal moments later too, with the frontman’s header from a free-kick clearing the goalmouth by a matter of inches.
It was one way traffic with Wanderers visibly ready for the fight, with Clough seeing his 25-yard free-kick saved by Lonergan at the last moment while Feeney’s shot from a tight angle flashed just wide of the mark.
Ream looked set to put the ball into his own net just short of the hour mark whilst trying to clear a Dean Moxey cross, but the defender somehow managed to hook it just wide of the post.
On the counter attack meanwhile, Amos was the hero for Bolton as he denied Kacaniklic whilst one-on-one with the Swedish international.
And straight from that, Wanderers were back level and it was Clough who had the goal, Davies finding him in the middle of the area with the striker firing home past Lonergan to send Macron Stadium into raptures.
Deserved on the Trotters’ part, it was just the tonic they needed as they pressed in search of a winner.
Just 13 minutes later, that second goal did come and it was that man Clough again, this time tapping home Feeney’s cross from close range.
Macron Stadium was bouncing and it was certainly a deserved lead given Wanderers’ dominance for the most part, with Clough receiving a standing ovation from three sides of the ground when being replaced by Emile Heskey with 12 minutes to go.
With the game entering its closing stages, Fulham tried their luck and were rewarded when McCormack thundered home a free-kick from all of 25 yards with six minutes remaining.
Bolton’s lead was almost restored with two minutes left, but Feeney somehow failed to connect with Pratley’s dangerous ball across goal.
With four minutes of additional time indicated, McCormack drilled a shot against the crossbar for the visitors while Heskey turned his man before firing just over the goalmouth.
Both sides threw everything forward in a bid to snatch all three points, but their efforts were in vain as the game ended all square at the final whistle.