Report: Fulham 1-0 Bolton
Bolton Wanderers’ brought the curtain down on a disappointing and forgettable 2015/16 campaign with defeat against Fulham at a sunny Craven Cottage.
Fulham controlled much of the game, which was largely played at an exhibition pace.
The decisive goal came on 77 minutes, when Tom Cairney controlled a loose ball inside the area before curling into the far corner.
The highlight, a vocal and undeterred backing from around 1,200 travelling Bolton Wanderers supporters. From first whistle to last and beyond, their chorus of songs, many of which remembered players from yesteryear, were heard up and down the banks of the Thames.
There was a solitary change to the Bolton Wanderers line-up that had previously claimed three points against play-off bound Hull City.
Oscar Threlkeld returned to the starting line-up following a brief absence with injury. He took the place of Rob Holding, who missed out on the matchday squad.
The home side set much of the early tempo. Ryan Fredericks made inroads down the right flank on a couple of occasions inside the opening ten minutes, causing problems for the Bolton backline.
Matt Smith saw his shot from a low cross blocked by David Wheater, before Dan Burn stabbed a volley marginally wide following a Ross McCormack corner kick.
After weathering the early pressure, Bolton did settle the game down and the 20-minute mark passed without any real incident of note.
Wanderers’ first effort of note came on 29 minutes. Neat midfield interplay involving Neil Danns and Mark Davies eventually culminated in Darren Pratley finding a pocket of space 20 yards from goal, though his shot zipped wide of Marcus Bettinelli’s near post.
Immediately up the other end Smith seemingly wrestled the shirt from Threlkeld’s back before spinning and slicing a shot wide from the left channel.
Towards the end of the half Bolton began to see more of the ball. Danns saw a shot spin wide from distance.
But the hosts ended the half in the ascendancy. Cairney forced Ben Amos into a scrambling save with a dipping effort from distance before defender Burn struck the base of the post after galloping forward unchallenged.
The second period assumed a similar pattern to that of the first. The home side seeing more of the ball, with Bolton occasionally threatening on the break.
Just shy of the hour mark Bolton engineered their best opportunity of the match. Lawrie Wilson escaped the attentions of ex-Wanderers Tim Ream before standing up a cross for Emile Heskey who nodded inches over the bar.
Smith’s aerial presence continued to cause problems. On two separate occasions within the space of five minutes the target man connected with McCormack and Cairney centres, but failed to find the target.
But Amos was twice called into action on 65 minutes. He first reacted superbly to beat away a point blank half volley from Fulham sub Emerson Hyndman before moments later smothering a low shot on the turn from Smith.
Emile Heskey departed to a standing ovation from all four sides of the stadium, with Kaiyne Woolery on in his place, as Bolton attempted to vary their attacking place.
But Fulham’s pressure eventually told. Smith once again rose high inside the Bolton area to head goalwards, with Amos parrying only to the feet of Cairney. After one touch, he superbly curled an effort inside the far post.
The remainder of the game was played out at an exhibition pace. Cairney came close to doubling his tally, once again curling wide from distance.
Amos made another superb double save in the final minutes, somehow clawing away quickfire efforts from no less than six yards from Smith and McCormack.
In stoppage time Danns saw a shot deflect narrowly wide, before the referee then called time.