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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Fulham (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Sunday 8th April 2012
Bolton's three match Premier League winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 3-0 hammering by Fulham at the Reebok Stadium.

Two first-half goals by the free scoring American striker Clint Dempsey put Bolton to the sword early. But the home side never really posed a threat to the visitors all afternoon, as they turned in a reminder of the pathetic home form we've seen from them all season.

Fulham dominated the game from the off, putting the mockers on home manager Owen Coyle who was awarded the ill-fated Manager of the Month award earlier in the week. But despite the visitors' early pressure Bolton nearly got their noses in front through the lively Ryo Miyaichi, who fired over the bar from Martin Petrov's cross.

Fulham then had a goal disallowed as Damien Duff's long range effort was charged down and fell to Dempsey, who turned and fired home but was pulled back for offside.

On the half hour Fulham finally did get the first goal, and in impressive style. Dempsey lined up a free-kick from 30 yards out and, having been offered the top left corner of the goal by Adam Bogdan, duly took the opportunity with a wonderful swerving, fast-paced strike.

The goal enabled Fulham to play with more freedom, and just before half-time they easily doubled their lead. Duff crossed into the box from the right and Dempsey was in hand to coolly finish for his, and Fulham's, second goal of the game. Dempsey's brace took him to 15 league goals this season, which saw him become Fulham's highest ever scorer in a single Premier League season, surpassing Louis Saha's previous record of 13.

Bolton had to try and change things at half-time and Coyle turned to Kevin Davies and Chris Eagles in place of the inept Darren Pratley and, bizarrely, his most creative player Miyaichi. The changes had no bearing on the game as Bolton continued to struggle and Fulham maintained their vice-like grip on the game, with Duff twice calling Bogdan into action.

The visitors completed the rout with a first goal for the club from former Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra. A Fulham counter-attack culminated in John Arne Riise's cross from the left being turned in from close range by Diarra 10 minutes from time.

This was a composed Fulham performance and Dempsey effectively won the game by himself with his outstanding quality, ably helped out by the impressive Duff. But it was a very disappointing performance from Bolton which eradicated the memory of the three consecutive victories, especially when you consider that before this match Fulham had scored only 8 away goals all season. Luckily for the hosts rivals Wigan and Blackburn also lost, but the poor offering from Bolton was just the latest instalment in a host of shocking home defeats.

The problem is Wanderers simply have players who aren't up the task, with the main offenders being Pratley and goal shy striker David Ngog. Pratley lacks the real quality necessary to be a Premier League midfielder and his inclusion throughout the season has frustrated Bolton fans, mainly because there is no viable alternative with the prolonged absence of Stuart Holden and now, of course, Fabrice Muamba.

Ngog on the other hand is simply not a Premier League striker. The Frenchman has scored 3 goals in 30 appearances so far this season which is a shocking ratio at any level. He lacks composure, he can't finish and does not have the flair to worry Premier League defenders - not ideal qualities of a lone striker.

Many have questioned Owen Coyle for not including leading scorer Ivan Klasnic, but while Klasnic is a real goal threat and a top finisher, his lack of work ethic means he is not able to play the lone striker role. The alternative would be to revert to 4-4-2 but then that leaves the Bolton midfield painfully exposed, as seen in the rather lucky defeat of Wolves last time out.

Bolton do need points, and quick, and they're not likely to come at Newcastle on Easter Monday. But the key thing for Wanderers to rectify is their woeful home form, which was painfully exposed by Fulham on Saturday.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan; Ricketts, Wheater, Ream, Alonso; M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley (K Davies 46); Petrov, Miyaichi (Eagles 46), Ngog (Klasnic 60). Unused subs: Jaaskalainen, Steinsson, Knight, Sordell.

Fulham: Schwarzer; Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Kelly; Duff (Frei 83), Diarra, Kacaniklic (Trotta 88), Dembele, Ruiz (Etuhu 73), Kacaniklic (Trotta 88); Dempsey. Unused subs: Stockdale, Baird, Senderos, S Davies.

Total articles: 69

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