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Fulham hold on for away point - S.Times

last updated Sunday 12th January 2003, 11:11 AM
Premiership - Saturday January 11, 2003
Bolton (0)0-0 (0) Fulham

Fulham seemed to have no chance of alleviating their current woes during a one-sided first half that should have ended with Bolton firmly in control of the game. The undoubted qualities of Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff were in evidence yet despite dominating the Londoners, Wanderers failed to gain an advantage.

Fulham striker Facundo Sava
Facundo Sava Stories
Fulham striker Facundo Sava nets but was judged offside
Having survived a torrid first half, Fulham added confidence to their hitherto desperate performance and began to expose the defensive frailties that have dogged Bolton’s season. Louis Saha, easily the visitors’ most potent attacking force, wrong-footed Bolton’s erratic Spanish defender Ivan Campo before forcing keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen into a smart, full-length save three minutes after the interval.

Moments later, Facundo Sava would have opened the scoring had he not wandered offside before finishing Saha’s knock-down. Fulham manager Jean Tigana will have saved his strongest words, however, for Steed Malbranque who wastefully placed a shot wide when unmarked in front of the cruelly exposed Jaaskelainen.

The chances spurned by both sides in an increasingly open second half merely confirmed why they are both struggling and Bolton’s afternoon was encapsulated when Gardner rounded Taylor in the 71st minute only to see his goalbound shot cleared by a recovering Sylvain Legwinski.

Sam Allardyce has taken to telling anyone who will listen that his side need to learn how to keep a clean sheet if they are to have any chance of surviving in the Premiership this season. That lesson apparently having been learnt, the Bolton manager must now hope they rediscover their scoring touch quickly or tougher times surely lie ahead.

Whether that search for goals will be led by Michael Ricketts, top scorer but unavailable yesterday, remains a moot point after another week of growing speculation linking the one-time England prospect with a move to Tottenham Hotspur.

Indeed, the absence of Ricketts’ name from the team sheet sent the rumour mill at the Reebok Stadium into overdrive, prompting conjecture that the club had decided to cash in on him. The actual, more prosaic, explanation was a hamstring problem and though Allardyce acknowledged the striker’s presence could have made the difference, the manager admitted the right offer may tempt him to part with the striker.

“Michael failed a fitness test this morning and was not at Tottenham having discussions as most people thought he was,” said Allardyce. “I knew there would more speculation with him not being in the squad, but he probably wishes he was out there because he could have added to his tally and perhaps we missed him.
Match Stats Bolton Fulham
Goal attempts 17 13
On Target 4 8
Woodwork 0 0
Offsides 3 2
Corners 7 4
Fouls 18 16
Yellows 1 2
Reds 0 0
source: www.sportinglife.com

“If someone offered £10m he would be gone. If someone offered the right price we could consider whether it would be better for the club, so I could strengthen with more than the one player I am limited to bringing in this month. But unless someone stumps up the right price in monetary terms, and not in players, then Michael with be staying with us.”

This season’s Ricketts is a shadow of the player that swaggered into the Premiership last term but without him, Bolton’s cutting edge appeared decidedly blunt with Henrik Pedersen wasting three opportunities when confronted by only Fulham goalkeeper Maik Taylor. Twice the forward shot wastefully over as Bolton dominated the first half and when he did lower his sights after being put through by winger Ricardo Gardner’s clever 81st-minute flick, Taylor’s chin got in the way to deflect the effort wide.

Two wins at home this season for Bolton tell their own story and glorious though victories at Old Trafford and Elland Road may be, Allardyce knows all too well that it is beating your nearest rivals in your own backyard that will really count when May comes around. “This was two points dropped,” “A clean sheet should have won us the game,” Allardyce concluded.

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Barness, Campo, Bergsson, Charlton, Pedersen, Frandsen, Okocha (Walters 83min), Gardner, Djorkaeff, Facey (Nolan 69min)

Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Goma, Djetou, Brevett, Goldbaek, Legwinski, Davis, Malbranque, Saha, Sava (Boa Morte 65min)

Referee: A Wiley

Attendance: 25,156
Source S.Times by Ian Millington
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