Fulham 2 Bolton Wanderers 1: We can beat Chelsea, says Coleman

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The Independent Football

The Senegal international had been haranguing Poll from the moment the final whistle blew on an increasingly bruising and ill-tempered game that left the home manager, Chris Coleman, breathing more freely after the disappointment of seeing his side defeated at Middlesbrough the previous week after being 2-0 up.

Coleman admitted that he had briefly envisaged a similar result after the substitute Sylvain Legwinski's own goal in the first minute of added time, but the result clearly lifted his spirits.

He said: "We can beat any team in this League. We can beat Chelsea on our day."

Coleman's counterpart, Sam Allardyce, denied that his side had suffered any kind of hangover from their 1-1 Uefa Cup draw at Guimaraes in Portugal on Thursday, pointing out that they had grown stronger as the match went on. But by that time, in his own phrase, their early lack of defensive concentration had presented them with that familiar footballing contour - "a mountain to climb". Neither manager felt that the game had merited so many cards being flourished, but Allardyce acknowledged that Diouf may have acted "immaturely" and would face a club fine.

The Cottage Gate had been turned into a mini-shrine to the man whose career had flared belatedly but memorably at the club between 1976 and 1978, and the minute's silence for the departed hero transformed itself spontaneously into prolonged applause.

Within four minutes of kick-off there was cause for another outburst of acclaim from the home supporters as Brian McBride put Fulham ahead with a goal that said everything about the sides' relative sharpness.

After Tomasz Radzinski had wriggled clear on the left flank and skewered the Bolton defence with a low cross to the near post, McBride took advantage of the disorientatation of his marker, Radhi Jaidi, to jab the ball past the goalkeeper. It was poor anticipation from the Tunisian defender, and within 14 minutes another mistake from him allowed McBride in for his second goal as he failed to deal with the American's challenge for a high, bouncing ball that had come from the boot of the goalkeeper Mark Crossley. McBride dispatched a shot into the top corner and Bolton were in disarray.

Within three minutes McBride almost managed a hat-trick when his close-range shot was blocked during a goalmouth mêlée. Soon afterwards Jaidi was conspicuously substituted.

Fulham (4-4-2): Crossley; Volz, Goma, Bocanegra, Rosenior; Malbranque, Bouba Diop, Boa Morte (Legwinski, 60), Radzinski; John (Helguson, 88), McBride. Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Knight, Pearce.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Ben Haim, Jaidi (N'Gotty, 31), Gardner; Diouf, Nolan, Faye (Djetou, 58), Speed, Nakata (Okocha, 53); Davies. Substitutes not used: Walker (gk), Vaz Te.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Bookings: Fulham Volz, Rosenior, Bocanegra; Bolton Diouf, Speed, Ben Haim, Okocha, O'Brien, Nolan, Davies. Sent off: Bolton Diouf.

Man of the match: McBride.

Attendance: 19,768.