Report: Bolton 3-1 Fulham
Wanderers came from behind to run out 3-1 winners over Fulham on a bitterly cold Tuesday evening at Macron Stadium.
The visitors had opened the scoring through Shaun Hutchinson from close range with 21 minutes gone, but Eidur Gudjohnsen had Bolton back level just before the break as he fired home from a matter of yards out.
The Whites pushed forward in the second period in a bid to secure all three points and were rewarded inside the final ten minutes of the clash as debutant Saidy Janko thundered home a superb shot from distance before Adam Le Fondre notched his first goal in Bolton colours from 30 yards to wrap up a hard earned victory.
Saidy Janko came into the starting XI for his Bolton debut following his loan move from Manchester United on deadline day, while Eidur Gudjohnsen took the armband for Wanderers in the absence of Matt Mills.
Elsewhere, there was also a place on the bench for Tom Eaves as well as recent acquisitions Simeon Slavchev, Filip Twardzik and Ben Amos.
Wanderers started brightly, with Josh Vela seeing his effort from 12 yards blocked with Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli seemingly stranded inside the opening two minutes of the clash.
The home side’s endeavour continued, with Liam Feeney causing problems down the right flank although the winger wasn’t able to replicate his efforts inside the penalty area.
The visitors finally tested Wanderers with seven minutes on the clock as Seko Fofana unleashed from distance, but the Fulham man saw his effort rebound upfield into the path of Le Fondre who was unfortunately to capitalise following his powerful run to the Fulham box.
Feeney was again in the mix with 12 minutes on the clock as he found Gudjohnsen unmarked in the middle of the penalty area, but the Icelander saw his shot blocked at range with his calls of handball waved away.
Having rarely troubled Andrew Lonergan in the Bolton goal, the visitors then forced Wanderers onto the back foot as Nikolay Bodurov saw his glancing header tipped away by the Whites keeper for a corner kick.
From the same set-piece however, Shaun Hutchinson capitalised on Bolton’s inability to clear their lines as he fired home from close range through a crowded penalty area with 21 minutes gone.
A goal which came against the run of play, Wanderers came close to an equaliser seven minutes later as Feeney whipped a dangerous ball across the face of goal, but Adam Le Fondre was unable to connect with the goal at his mercy.
With 14 minutes to go until half time, Fulham enjoyed an opportunity to double their advantage as Ross McCormack collected the ball on the edge of the box and fired goalwards first time, but his effort cannoned into the turf and wide of the mark.
Up the other end of the pitch, Gudjohnsen capitalised on a lapse in concentration in the Fulham backline as he scooped a loose ball into his possession, but the frontman took too long to unleash and his shot was ultimately a simple one for Bettinelli to
McCormark again was causing problems for Bolton inside the closing stages of the half as he forced Lonergan into a smart save from his curled effort, while Feeney was also making tracks for the home side.
With five minutes to go until the break and with Wanderers in the ascendancy, Josh Vela found himself in space 12 yards from goal, only to see his seemingly goal-bound shot blocked with more calls of handball waved away.
With the Bolton pressure building, it seemed only a matter of time before the hosts equalised and they did so with just 90 seconds of the first period remaining as Janko’s cross found Gudjohnsen who collected the ball and fired home past a stranded
A deserved equaliser given their efforts during the opening 45 minutes, Wanderers pushed in a bid to complete the comeback before half time as three minutes of added time were indicated, but they couldn’t find a way through the Fulham defence as
the half ended all square.
With no changes for either side at the half time break, both teams came out with a vigour about them but it was Bolton who enjoyed the first real chance as Feeney’s cross deflected goalwards with Bettinelli being forced to awkwardly tip the ball over
Le Fondre was next to test the Fulham backline as he collected Gudjohnsen’s chest-down before seeing his shot deflect wide of the mark, only for the assistant referee to signal for a goal kick.
Janko, creator of Wanderers’ equaliser, was next to see an effort take a deflection and fly narrowly wide of the post, while Le Fondre had an effort cleared off the line with Macron Stadium on their feet.
The pressure was building from Bolton, with the Fulham defence at sixes and sevens as Feeney and Le Fondre launched efforts in and around the penalty area on the hour mark but to no avail.
Fulham were struggling to even break out of their own half at times, with Wanderers piling men forward in a bid to take the lead in the clash, but as the second period wore on the clear cut chances were few and far between.
The visitors were struggling to cope with the presence of Janko, with the young loanee running the Cottagers’ defence ragged with his pace and trickery.
With 15 minutes remaining in the game, Wanderers introduced Zach Clough into the clash in place of goalscorer Gudjohnsen, while Janko enjoyed a mazy run from the half way line before eventually seeing his tame shot collected by the Fulham
Wanderers were still in the ascendancy as the game entered its final ten minutes and were finally rewarded as Janko deservedly got his name on the scoresheet with a thunderous angled effort from the corner of the penalty area to send Macron
Stadium into raptures.
Following the restart, Fulham threw men forward as they looked to chase a late equalising goal but were finding themselves running into a steely Bolton backline.
With a minute remaining in the clash, Wanderers were able to put the result beyond doubt as following miscommunication in the Fulham backline, Le Fondre capitalised on a bad ball out by Bettinelli to fire home from all of 30 yards into an empty net for Bolton’s third of the game and wrap up the victory for Wanderers.