The seismic shock was not as great as it was 17 miles away, but Fulham win away almost as regularly as Manchester United lose 4-1 at home. A tale of the unexpected unfolded at the Reebok yesterday just as it had at Old Trafford.
Fulham, who had travelled 14 times in the Premier League this season and never managed to return with three points, changed that with a victory that was as surprising as it was welcome. Fulham now have 37 points and it would take a calamitous run for them to be relegated.
Which is more than you can say for Bolton Wanderers. Andy Johnson, Simon Davies and Diomansy Kamara gave Fulham this unexpected success but if the home players are seeking scapegoats they should look in the mirror. Defensive errors gifted two goals and with that handicap even Kevin Davies's strike could not rescue them.
"You can't defend like that in any league, never mind the Premier League," Gary Megson, the Bolton manager said. "If we had just cleared our lines all three goals wouldn't have happened." It was difficult to argue, although Fulham's Roy Hodgson tried. "Three goals was a scant reward for the number of times we got in and the chances we created," he said.
Hodgson was seeking the positive but a microscope would not have found the good in an opening 42 minutes that was so poor it was impossible to envisage either side scoring. Given this dross, the climax to the first half arrived with a jolt, although, unsurprisingly, the first goal arrived courtesy of a mistake. Andy O'Brien eschewed the simple clearance, a leaden first touch sent him past his own goalkeeper and he lacked the speed to prevent Johnson sliding in to touch the ball into an empty net.
It was catastrophic defending but Bolton, who had hitherto barely found a colleague with their passing, effected an instant improvement and their equaliser, in stoppage time, was a goal worthy of a league with premier in its name. Kevin Davies chested to his namesake, Mark, and when he received a return pass he powered through a feeble tackle by Paul Konchesky and shot into the far corner.
Fulham would have been forgiven for thinking "here we go again" but they took the lead for a second time after 56 minutes. Again O'Brien was left standing by Johnson's pace, Danny Murphy's shot hit the bar and Simon Davies's shot squeezed under Jaaskelainen, crossing the line before Jlloyd Samuel cleared.
Bolton's Gary Cahill went close with a header but the points were sealed two minutes from time by more nonsensical Bolton defending. Gavin McCann rolled the ball across his area, Clint Dempsey passed to Kamara and the Senegal striker beat Jaaskelainen.
At the end, Fulham celebrated like they had won the League, throwing their shirts into the crowd, while Bolton left the pitch to a chorus of boos.Reuse content