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Fulham undefeated - S.Times

last updated Sunday 25th November 2001, 8:12 AM
Fulham remain undefeated in their last five in this unenthralling stalemate between two of last season’s seasons promoted teams and was the fourth time in the past five home games that Bolton had failed to score.

While qualified lawyer Gudni Bergsson offered a perfect case for the defence, it’s in front of goal, particularly at the Reebok Stadium, where Bolton remain unproven at Premiership level.

Manager Sam Allardyce admitted it is becoming a problem in his quest to keep his side in the right half of the table.

“It’s not that we are not creating opportunities to score. We have, but we are not taking them like we do away from home,” said Allardyce, who has not overseen a home win in the league since the end of August.

“It is a little bit of a concern but if we keep performing like we did against a side of Fulham’s quality, and dominate as much as we did, it is pleasing, and hopefully in the end we will turn performances into results.”

That’s something Fulham struggle to do, although they have made themselves difficult to beat on their travels and are now undefeated anywhere in their past five matches.

Fulham assistant manager Christian Damiano
Fulham assistant manager Christian Damiano
Assistant manager Christian Damiano insisted that they came north with good intentions and the side which finished 14 points clear of Bolton at the top of Division One last season did not shut up shop in search of a draw.

However, Damiano conceded that Fulham perhaps needed to take more risks to unhinge a Bolton defence in which 36-year-old Bergsson and his 33-year-old sidekick Mike Whitlow barely broke sweat.

The visitors tried to play through the centre of the Bolton back four when using the width of the pitch might have been more productive.

Bergsson is set to delay his retirement to continue a legal career yet again and the Icelander’s decision would appear to be a sound one on the evidence here, where he and Whitlow prevented Louis Saha and Barry Hayles from having a worthwhile shot between them.

“The two old-timers at the back marshalled Fulham’s front two without a problem for the whole game,” added Allardyce, who enjoyed a first clean sheet since early September. “That gave us the impetus to go on and try to get one, and unfortunately they just whizzed the wrong side of the posts. We dominated the game and my only criticism is that the final ball was not good enough to create more chances.”

Bolton had the better of what few scoring opportunities there were, although neither keeper had a difficult save to make. Allardyce was positive in his search for those elusive goals by playing three men in attack but the nearest Bolton came to scoring were two efforts from midfielder Kevin Nolan, which were saved by Edwin van der Sar, and a deft chip from top-scorer Michael Ricketts, which dropped just wide.

However, Bolton could not sustain their first-half superiority, whereas Fulham saved their best for last. Substitute Luis Boa Morte rounded Jussi Jaaskelainen, but found the angle too tight to shoot.

Although locating the target had proved a problem on the pitch, Allardyce revealed afterwards that at least his projected points tally for safety is being met.

He said: “We hit the first total of 15 points in 10 games and we are well on our way to the next one, although I am not telling you what that is.”

Teams

Bolton:
Jaaskelainen, N'Gotty, Whitlow, Bergsson, Charlton, Nolan, Warhurst, Frandsen (Farrelly 84), Gardner (Holdsworth 76), Wallace, Ricketts.

Subs Not Used: Poole, Barness, Johnson.

Booked: Holdsworth.

Fulham:
Van der Sar, Finnan, Goma, Melville, Brevett, Collins, Malbranque (Clark 69), Davis, Legwinski, Saha, Hayles (Boa Morte 68).

Subs Not Used: Taylor, Symons, Goldbaek.

Booked: Brevett.

Att: 23,848

Ref: M Dean (The Wirral).
Source Sunday Telegraph by Pete Oliver
Since 1998
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