Fulham were without several First Team regulars for Saturday’s fixture at the Reebok Stadium, including striker Bobby Zamora.
Roy Hodgson handed David Elm his first start for the Whites alongside Erik Nevland. Fulham’s Scandinavian double act were up against former Fulham centre half Zat Knight.
For Bolton, Gary Cahill was the one noticeable absentee from Owen Coyle’s starting eleven, with Andy O’Brien partnering Knight in central defence.
Goalscoring opportunities were few and far between during the first half as Fulham produced a calm, assured performance to keep the Reebok Stadium noticeably subdued.
In fact, the only noteworthy effort during the opening ten minutes of play came when Cohen met Taylor’s cross from the left flank. However the midfielder’s tame, looping header was collected by Schwarzer with ease.
David Elm almost made an early impact after 11 minutes of play, stretching to meet Greening’s corner at the far post. The Swedish striker was beaten by the pace of the ball and failed to send his right-footed effort goalwards.
After 15 minutes of play Fulham began to dominate possession with some free-flowing passing moves. Dikgacoi was certainly offering plenty of bite in midfield, showing impressive energy levels alongside Danny Murphy.
The home side certainly offered no threat during the opening exchanges to the home crowd’s obvious frustration. Bolton did however manage to create the first opening of the game after 17 minutes of play. The chance fell to Cohen on the edge of the area but his volleyed effort ballooned over the bar.
After 22 minutes of play Greening’s over-exuberant challenge on Muamba offered Bolton a free-kick 30 yards from goal down Fulham’s left flank. The resulting set piece, delivered by Taylor, found Ricketts in the area and Schwarzer need to be alert to make the save.
On the half hour mark Kagisho Dikgacoi tried his luck from distance after powering his way through midfield. The South African midfielder burst through the centre of the park before unleashing a powerful right footed drive which blazed just wide of Jaaskelainen’s post.
As half time approached the tempo of the game increased and on 38 minutes Mark Davies stabbed the ball towards goal from eight yards. Once again Schwarzer was in fine form - smothering the ball in an instant.
At the other end Fulham probed with two successive corners before the Whites rode their luck in extreme when Schwarzer tipped Mark Davies’ shot onto the post right before the break. The ball looked destined for goal before rolling across the six-yard box to safety. It was the final piece of action from what was otherwise an uneventful first half on Saturday.
Bolton got the second half underway and took the attacking initiative, penetrating Fulham’s area with deep crosses from the flanks. However Bolton lacked a cutting edge and Schwarzer dealt with the home side’s predictable approach with ease.
Ten minutes into the second half Fulham’s desperate injury situation worsened when Dikgacoi, who had enjoyed a fine game, was forced from the field of play, with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Dickson Etuhu entered the fray as Roy Hodgson was forced to make his first change of the game.
Just minutes later Brede Hangeland took a heavy blow to the head but much to the relief of Fulham’s travelling fans the Norwegian stopper recovered to return to the fray following treatment.
Owen Coyle made two substitutions in quick succession with half an hour remaining, introducing Elmander in attack and Basham in defence.
Brede Hangeland produced a superb sliding tackle to deny Elmander a clean shot on goal only minutes after the striker had been introduced. Kevin Davies played the striker clean through with a superb through ball but Hangeland read the move to intervene with an impressive last ditch challenge.
After 72 minutes of play Fulham had Schwarzer to thank for keeping the Whites on level terms. After Chung-Yong had skipped past Fulham’s defence on the six-yard line he appeared to have rounded Schwarzer before the Aussie stretched out to tip the ball away from the midfielder.
Roy Hodgson reacted to Bolton’s bout of pressure by making a double substitution. Stefano Okaka replaced David Elm whilst Chris Smalling was introduced for Erik Nevland. Both players certainly offered Fulham a hefty presence in attack.
Smalling and Okaka certainly made their presence felt in the later stages of the game. Immediately after his introduction, Okaka earned Fulham a free-kick 30 yards from goal. The resulting set piece, taken by Shorey, deflected just over the cross bar. It was the closest Fulham were to come to a goal in the second half.
There was controversy in the dying minutes when Kevin Davies powered a close range header past Schwarzer, only for Mark Clattenburg to rule the goal out for an apparent obstruction in the area.
It would have been a cruel end to what was a resolute, determined performance by Roy Hodgson’s side. After four minutes added time the draw was confirmed by Referee Clattenburg’s whistle and Fulham returned to SW6 with a point.