Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Fulham

  • December 19, 2015 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/de2fe

Zach Clough netted a brace on his first Macron Stadium appearance since September, as Bolton were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham.

Wanderers fell behind with 28 minutes on the clock when one-time transfer target Luke Garbutt pounced on a mistake from Prince-Desir Gouano before drilling low and hard into the bottom corner of Ben Amos' goal.

But the hosts pulled themselves level just after the hour, with Clough prodding home from just inside the Fulham box, before he completed the turnaround with 16 minutes to go by bundling a cross from Liam Feeney over the line.

Fulham escaped with a point, however, as Ross McCormack fired home a 30-yard free-kick with five minutes to play, ensuring Bolton remain bottom of the table at Christmas, five points from safety.

Neil Lennon made two changes to the side that started at Charlton Athletic on Tuesday, with Darren Pratley returning as captain in place of the injured Josh Vela, while Gary Madine came in at the expense of Emile Heskey.

The former Bolton duo of Andy Lonergan and Tim Ream were welcomed with warm applause prior to kick-off, before attentions turned to the players wearing white.

Both teams started slowly in the wet conditions at Macron Stadium, with Lonergan twice racing off his line to prevent Clough from going clear inside the opening 10 minutes.

In fact, it was Jay Spearing who had the first shot of the game, as he saw a half-volley fly wide of the target.

Feeney was next to try his luck, albeit with a wayward cross which forced a backtracking Lonergan into action, moments before a stinging drive from Pratley was deflected away by a Fulham defender.

Rob Holding's attempts to claim a first senior goal came to nothing, as he linked up well with Madine before seeing a shot charged down, but it wasn't long before the visitors had the ball in the net to break the deadlock against the run of play.

A mistake and subsequent slip from Gouano provided McCormack with the chance to steal possession 30 yards from goal. He, in turn, laid it off to an advancing Garbutt, who drilled the ball low past Amos to give Fulham the lead.

They came within a matter of inches away from doubling their advantage five minutes later, but Alexander Kacaniklic's bending effort from just inside the box clipped the top of the crossbar on its way behind.

Bolton were proving to be the masters of their own downfall at this stage and they provided Moussa Dembele with the chance to make it 2-0 on 36 minutes, as he raced on to a poor backpass from Dean Moxey, only to shoot wide when one-on-one with Amos.

Richard Stearman did well to turn a volley from Spearing behind in the final minute of the half, as Fulham went in at the break with a 1-0 lead through Garbutt's thunderbolt.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second period, which brought a huge upturn in momentum for the hosts.

Clough and Madine both came close to equalising inside the opening five minutes of the half, before the former saw a deflected free-kick well saved by Lonergan after Mark Davies had been hauled down just outside the Fulham box.

Fantastic wing-play from Feeney twice forced Fulham's Dan Burn into clearing from inside his own six-yard box, while a whipped ball from Moxey, this time on the other flank, forced Ream into a far-post clearance which almost resulted in him putting past his own goalkeeper.

Fulham should have put the game to bed on the hour, but Amos stood tall to deny Kacaniklic in a one-on-one situation with his foot - a save which proved to be vital, as Wanderers equalised just 30 seconds later.

After receiving the ball from Davies just inside the box, Clough worked himself into half-a-yard of space before prodding past Lonergan with an old-fashioned toe-bunger.

Clough then added a second on 74 minutes, this time gambling on a low cross from Feeney and steering the ball home from close range. Fulham captain Scott Parker appealed desperately with the assistant referee for a handball against the Bolton forward, but replays showed the ball had already crossed the line and the goal was allowed to stand.

Neil Danns was introduced immediately after that goal, with Spearing's afternoon coming to an end, shortly before Clough departed the action by being replaced by Heskey.

Sandwiched between those changes was an effort from Cauley Woodrow, which rippled the side-netting of Amos' goal, but the visitors did get themselves level with five minutes left to play.

After Heskey had conceded a free-kick 30 yards from goal, McCormack expertly curled the ball home to knock the stuffing out of the home support, as they began to wonder where that next win was going to come from.

They had the chance to take all three points in the final minute of normal time, as a deep cross from Pratley found Feeney at the far post, but he failed to make the sufficient contact that would almost certainly have resulted in a third goal.

Appeals for a penalty went unnoticed by referee Nigel Miller when Pratley appeared to be hacked down inside the area inside four minutes of stoppage time, during which McCormack struck the crossbar for Fulham and Heskey fired over on the turn, as an entertaining game of football ended all square.

The result means Bolton will spend Christmas four points adrift at the foot of the Championship table, with a trip to fellow strugglers Rotherham United on the horizon this coming Boxing Day.

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Holding, Gouano, Wheater, Moxey, Spearing (Danns 75), Pratley, Feeney, Clough (Heskey 80), Davies, Madine (Dobbie 88)
Subs Not Used: Dervite, Rachubka, Casado, Walker
Goals: Clough 61,74

Fulham: Lonergan, Richards, Stearman, Burn, Ream, Kacaniklic, Hyndman, Parker (O'Hara 78), Garbutt (Pringle 64), McCormack, Dembele (Woodrow 64)
Subs Not Used: Hutchinson, Smith, Cairney, Lewis
Booked: Stearman
Goals: Garbutt 28, McCormack 85

Referee: Nigel Miller
Attendance: 14,543

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21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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