Fulham 2-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • December 17, 2011 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/73ecf

Bolton remain bottom of the Premier League as they fell to their 13th defeat of the season, a 2-0 loss at Fulham.

Two goals inside 66 seconds from Clint Dempsey and Bryan Ruiz just after the half hour gave Wanderers with a mountain to climb and one that they couldn't find a way back from.

Owen Coyle's side had glimpses of goal throughout the game but were unable to find a way past Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale as they slumped to their fifth defeat in a row.

Wanderers made three changes from last weekend's defeat to Aston Villa, with Marcos Alonso, Fabrice Muamba and Nigel Reo-Coker coming in for Paul Robinson, Chris Eagles and Tuncay Sanli.

Neither side enjoyed an extended spell of possession in the early exchanges and the first chance came on eight minutes when Reo-Coker stole the ball from Dickson Etuhu before flashing a shot just wide of David Stockdale's goal.

That seemed to spark the hosts into life and they should have gone ahead two minutes later. Dempsey played a smart ball through to Andy Johnson, but instead of looping the ball over the unrushing Jussi Jaaskelainen, Johnson sent a shot wide of the post.

Moments later, Danny Murphy forced Jaaskelainen into action with a volley from the edge of the box as Fulham looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

Johnson saw a strike blocked by Zat Knight, before headers from Etuhu and Brede Hangeland came close from successive corners.

Midway through the half, former Fulham midfielder Darren Pratley came close to scoring against his former club, sending a half-volley narrowly off target.

Marcos Alonso and Mark Davies both saw shots blocked by the home defence just after the half hour, moments before Fulham broke up the other end and took the lead.

With no challenge coming from Alonso, Ruiz took his time on the right flank and crossed for Dempsey, who beat Dedryck Boyata in the air and headed past Jaaskelainen.

Then, just over 60 seconds later, Wanderers conceded yet again. Dempsey played a superb ball through to Luiz and after getting away from Alonso, the Costa Rica international checked his run before sending an exquisite looping effort over Jaaskelainen.

Ivan Klasnic and Mark Davies both saw shots blocked before the break, but Bolton found no way past the Fulham defence as they went in two goals down at the interval.

Wanderers made two changes for the start of the second period, with Gretar Steinsson and Chris Eagles coming on for Boyata and Pratley.

The changes made little difference to the game and it was the hosts who carved out the first opportunity of the second half, with Etuhu being denied a strike on goal by a last-ditch challenge from Knight.

Klasnic hit the post on 55 minutes, only to turn around and see the flag raised for offside. His striking partner, Kevin Davies, was replaced immediately afterwards, with David Ngog coming on for the Trotters captain.

Ngog almost made an instant impact for Bolton. The French forward capitalised on a mistake in the Fulham defence and played a square ball to Muamba, who struck a tame shot straight at Stockdale.

Muamba fired over the bar on the hour before Johnson was played in at the other end, only to be denied a clear run on goal by the offside flag.

The home supporters thought their team at scored a third midway through the half, but Dempsey's strike had gone into the side netting with Jaaskelainen having the shot covered.

Dempsey was involved again on 70 minutes and with Jaaskelainen beaten, the ball flew narrowly wide of the target.

Bolton went on a rare venture forward a minute later and came close to getting themselves back in the game as Eagles' fierce long-range strike flashed past the post.

Johnson picked up on a mistake from Knight as the game entered the final 10 minutes, but with Jaaskelainen rushing out to close him down, the former Crystal Palace forward sent his strike straight at the Bolton goalkeeper.

Neither side managed to create any clear-cut opportunities in the closing moments of the game as Fulham ended the game with a comfortable and deserved three points.

Bolton return to action at Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday evening, knowing that only victory will see them rise off the foot of the Premier League before Christmas. Only once in the last 19 years has the team bottom at Christmas avoided relegation at the end of the campaign.

Fulham: Stockdale, Baird, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Ruiz, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Johnson, Dembele
Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Kelly, Sa, Gecov, Duff, Hughes, Frei
Booked: Murphy
Goals: Dempsey 32, Ruiz 34

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Boyata (Steinsson 46), Cahill, Knight, Alonso, M Davies, Muamba, Reo-Coker, Pratley (Eagles 46), K Davies (Ngog 56), Klasnic
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Robinson, Tuncay, Petrov
Booked: Reo-Coker, Muamba, Steinsson

Referee: Chris Foy
Attendance: 25,643

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
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20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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