Owen Coyle, the Bolton Wanderers manager, believes that referees have an agenda as far as his robust forward Kevin Davies is concerned. For the player himself, that applies to one referee in particular.
Mark Clattenburg disallowed Davies' last-minute goal for a supposed two-handed push on defender Brede Hangeland as he headed in Lee Chung-yong's right-wing free-kick. Coyle's sense of indignation was understandable, and the Bolton manager said that Clattenburg was the only person in the stadium who did not think Davies' effort was valid.
For the player, however, the decision was not entirely a surprise. "The referee said I put two hands in his back but I can't see it," Davies said. "When I saw who was the referee I didn't expect to get anything off him. Over the years I have never got much from him. There was a penalty at Old Trafford last season and he did nothing. But I got a booking. I've had numerous bookings over the years. I don't know, I have always felt there is something personal there."
Davies is regularly at the top of the tables of fouls committed and received among top-flight players. "Kevin's such an honest player and I think sometimes his reputation goes against him," Coyle said.
Moments before that contentious point, Johan Elmander had wasted a glorious opportunity when played through by Davies but, save for Mark Davies striking the bar via the body of Mark Schwarzer, they were the only incidents of note in the entire game.
Fulham, with Bobby Zamora ill and Kagisho Dikgacoi limping off with an ankle problem, could at least be satisfied with a point. "It's going to be difficult to compete on those fronts," said manager Roy Hodgson of his team's Europa League and FA Cup interests. "We'll be doing our best, but probably not doing it as well as we were in October and November and December, where we had all the players available."
Bolton Wanderers (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Robinson, Knight, O'Brien (Basham, 64) Ricketts; Muamba; Lee, M Davies (Elmander, 57) Cohen, Taylor (Weiss, 66); K Davies. Substitutes not used: Samuel, Gardner, Al Habsi, Wilshere.
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Baird, Hangeland, Hughes, Shorey; Greening, Murphy, Dikgacoi (Etuhu, 55) Duff; Elm (Okaka, 76) Nevland (Smalling, 76). Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler, Kelly, Riise, Stoor.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Durham).
Man of the match: Knight.
Attendance: 22,289.Reuse content