Monday, November 30, 2009

The beautiful game

Some things I learnt from Saturday's visit of Bolton to the Cottage.

There are days when playing the beautiful game just isn't enough. Sometimes you have to work hard and grind out a result. Fulham dominated the game for long stretches but struggled to find a way to goal. At times our final ball was poor but when we did find the target Jaaskelainen was equal to most of our efforts and when he wasn't there always seemed to be a Bolton head or foot to stab the ball clear. In the end we were lucky to rescue a point.

Gary Megson deserves some credit for recreating an exact facsimilie of Sam Allardyce's Bolton team circa 2003. I'm not the most tactically astute but it doesn't take a genius to understand the Big Sam/Ginger Meg master plan.
1. Kick 'em early and kick 'em hard.
2. Keep kicking them until you can't get away with it any more.
3. Take every opportunity to win a free kick or a corner.
4. Once you've won a dead ball lob it in the box and win it in the air.
5. In the unlikely event you take the lead, defend like billy-o.
It's not pretty but it is effective.

Had Kevin Blom been refereeing this game I doubt Bolton would have finished with more than 8 men. Steve Bennett managed to book 6 Wanderers for a succession of crude and reckless challenges (and Jonathon Greening for an equally poor lunge at Klasnic) but became more and more lenient as the game progressed. The building frustration from our lack of a goal and the unpunished thuggery began to take its toll. On my language if nothing else.

Hodgson era Fulham are no walkovers. This was not a vintage performance but the team deserve credit for their persistance and hard work. We missed the presence of Zamora up front. Dempsey works very hard but doesn't seem to get the rub of the green when he's the lead man up front. We were rescued by a touch of class from Damien Duff and a deflection off Gary Cahill's knee. I celebrated the 75th minute equaliser the way I might have done a winner in any other game.

A sigh of relief at the end, Bolton deserved their point but we fought hard to preserve our unbeaten home record against them since we were both promoted in 2001.

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