February 11, 2007
BOLTON, England (AFP) – Kevin Nolan boosted Bolton’s Champions League challenge as his goal clinched a 2-1 win against Fulham.
Nolan struck early in the second half of Sunday’s game to put Sam Allardyce’s side in control after Gary Speed’s penalty had opened the scoring before the interval.
Zat Knight reduced the deficit with a powerful header, but Fulham were unable to equalise as they endured another fruitless away-day.
The victory lifted Bolton into fourth place in the Premiership, although Arsenal could reclaim that spot, which guarantees a berth in the Champions League qualifying round next season, with a win or a draw against Wigan later on Sunday.
At the very least, the unfashionable Lancashire outfit appear odds-on to finish in the UEFA Cup positions, but Allardyce will now be aiming for a place in Europe’s elite club competition.
Bolton always looked capable of troubling Fulham with their potent combination of pace and bristling aggression.
Iran midfielder Andranik Teymourian was making his first Premiership start for Bolton and he nearly created a goal in the sixth minute.
Teymourian’s long throw caused confusion in the Fulham defence and Nicolas Anelka stole in to head just past a post.
Fulham have won just once away from Craven Cottage this season and their chances of improving that miserable record diminished in the 23rd minute.
Coleman’s side had only themselves to blame for Bolton’s opener. Knight missed his header as he tried to clear Nolan’s cross and, with Anelka ready to pounce on the loose ball just six yards out, Michael Brown bundled over the French striker.
Referee Howard Webb awarded the penalty and Speed calmly sent Jan Lastuvka the wrong way from the spot to claim his fourth goal of the season.
It needed a fine stop from Lastuvka, deputising for injured first choice Antti Niemi, to deny Teymourian just before half-time.
Anelka’s pass gave the Iranian a sight of goal and his right-foot strike from just outside the area was brilliantly tipped over by Lastuvka.
Fulham’s away record in the last seasons has been a constant concern for Coleman, with just one win in 19 attempts in the Premiership last season followed by a single victory, at Newcastle in September, this term.
The Londoners’ pourous defence has been at the main cause of the problem and they were exposed again in the 51st minute.
Nicky Hunt’s deep cross was met by Stelios Giannakopoulos, who got in front of two Fulham defenders, and he headed against a post before the rebound fell for Nolan to tap in from close range.
Ricardo Gardner preserved Bolton’s two-goal advantage when he hacked Heidar Helguson’s effort off the line moments later.
That near-miss sparked Fulham into life and they got one back in the 66th minute.
Knight made up for his part in Bolton’s first goal as he beat Hunt to Simon Davies’s corner and placed a superb header past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Fulham poured forward in search of a leveller and only a magnificent save by Jaaskelainen stopped them getting it as he tipped over Tomasz Radzinski’s diving header in stoppage time.