Trotters too good for Fulham
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: 09/04/05 5:08pm
Bolton Wanderers kept their claims for a European place on track after a 3-1 victory over ten-man Fulham.
A Jay-Jay Okocha penalty followed by strikes from Kevin Nolan and Stelios Giannakopoulos gave The Trotters the win, as The Cottagers spent most of the match a man short after Claus Jensen was sent off for a hand ball in his own box.
Despite Luis Boa Morte's strike just after half time, Fulham fell to defeat to stay just six points above the relegation zone.
The Trotters welcomed their influential captain Okocha back to the starting line-up after he missed last Saturday's defeat at Liverpool with a hamstring injury, replacing Ricardo Gardner in the line-up.
Fulham boss Chris Coleman, meanwhile, started Andy Cole and Brian McBride in his attack on a wet Saturday at The Reebok Stadium.
The first half proved subdued at times, with the early spells seeing a very evenly-played contest between both sides.
However, the match then turned on 11 minutes when Giannakopoulos's corner from the left found the head of the unmarked Bruno N'Gotty.
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His downward header at the near post saw Jensen having to use right arm to clear the ball off the line, but the Dane's actions were well spotted by referee Dermot Gallagher, who sent him off and awarded a penalty to the home side.
Okocha stepped up to convert his spot kick right footed past Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar for 1-0.
With the extra man, Bolton set about trying to increase their lead and van der Sar needed to make a fine save from Nolan's right foot lob by tipping the ball over the bar following N'Gotty's long free kick forward while Okocha failed to test the Dutch keeper with a right foot strike moments later.
Sam Allardyce's side would not be denied a second goal, however, as Okocha's sublime long ball from the left found the head of Kevin Davies in the box.
The former Southampton striker directed his header back towards goal, where Nolan ran across the Fulham backline unmarked to head home inside the near post for 2-0.
The half ended with Bolton continuing to pressure the ten-man Cottagers, with Nolan squandering a point blank chance at the near post, missing the target with a right foot shot after Okocha picked him out with a fine cross from the right.
Fernando Hierro then saw his right foot volleyed effort go well wide from the edge of the area after poor Fulham defending saw them fail to clear their lines before Okocha was also high and wide with a right foot strike from Giannakopoulos's pass from the left.
Bolton would have fancied themselves to see the second half out, but their West London opponents stung them by pulling a goal back two minutes after the restart.
Steed Malbranque intercepted a poor Bolton clearance before playing McBride, who in turn found Cole.
The former Manchester United hit-man made a run into the box before crossing low from the right and across the face of goal and Boa Morte was on hand to convert his chance at the far post for 2-1.
However, the home side restored their two-goal lead seven minutes later, as van der Sar's throw-out to the halfway line was intercepted by The Trotters.
Nolan won possession and headed towards goal before slipping a fine right foot ball through to the onrushing Giannakopoulos in the box and the Greek was able to finish right footed past the Fulham keeper to make it 3-1.
Moments later, Bolton had claims for a penalty when Nicky Hunt's cross from the right found the head of Giannakopoulos at the far post.
His header went off the arm of Zat Knight and over the bar, but Gallagher waved away Bolton's appeals.
The remainder of the half saw the visitors continue to press forward for goals, despite being man short.
Knight missed the target with a header from a corner from the right while Jaaskelainen needed to make a decent save at the near post from McBride's close-range right foot close shot.
The match ended with The Cottagers unlucky not to get a second goal from a scramble after a long ball forward.
Substitute Ricardo Gardner needed to clear the ball off the line with a spectacular overhead kick, as Bolton deservedly claimed all three points in the end.
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|Bolton Wanderers||Team Name||Fulham|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||2|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|6||Total Fouls Conceded||16|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|