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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Fulham

After Bolton losing two league games in a row for the first time since Neil Lennon's arrival, a big response was needed when Fulham came to the Macron.

A stunning strike and an assist from debutant Saidy Janko saw Bolton finally overcome a dreadful Fulham side, with Adam Le Fondre scoring his first goal for the club at the death to seal the three points in front of a far-from-capacity Macron crowd.

Neil Lennon made two changes to the side that were so easily defeated by Derby County on Saturday, with the injured Liam Trotter and Zach Clough making way for Janko and captain-for-the-day Eidur Gudjohnsen. Perhaps the most surprising change that didn't occur after the 4-1 defeat to Derby however, is that Lennon persisted with the 3-5-2 formation, despite it not quite working in the league.

Bolton started brightly, with Janko proving an immediate nuisance down the right hand side. His early cross teed up Josh Vela for a shot, but the young midfielder's effort was blocked by the head of a Fulham defender.

Liam Feeney, who played extremely well for the entirety of the game, especially surprising since he was playing out on the left, also proved to be a real threat down the flank. He constantly had his marker back-peddling and managed to swing in some dangerous crosses.

After that positive start, however, Bolton found themselves falling back into the old habits.

The players were tentative and cumbersome on the ball, and the team just looked disjointed and unbalanced due to the 3-5-2.

David Wheater blocked a fierce Ross McCormack strike and then Andy Lonergan needed to be diligent in order to deny Nicolay Bodurov's near post header.

Bolton had fallen right out of the game, and it was no surprise when they fell behind. A well-worked short corner from Fulham led to defender Shaun Hutchinson being through on goal, and he made no mistake by thumping the ball in low past Lonergan.

In the aftermath of the goal Bolton abandoned the 3-5-2 and reverted back to a 4-4-2. This saw Josh Vela drop from central midfield to right back, with Neil Danns and Barry Bannan making up the centre of midfield and Feeney and Janko playing out wide.

This tactical switch made the Whites instantly look more balanced and comfortable, the players reacted well to going a goal down and immediately embarked on the search of an equaliser. Feeney's continued to be dangerous down the left, but his cross was too high for Le Fondre; and when the latter stole possession and teed up Eidur Gudjohnsen, the Iceman could only hit a tame effort which was easily gathered by the Fulham goalkeeper.

Whilst Wanderers looked a lot more comfortable in a 442, it still had its own problems, as Bannan, despite his tidiness on the ball and undisputed work rate, isn't exactly the most physically imposing of players and he tended to go missing when Fulham were on the ball, which resulted in the Cottagers finding it fairly easy to waltz through our midfield at times.

Fulham came close to doubling their lead when £10m+ signing McCormack picked the ball up on the edge of the area and hit a low, bending strike goalwards.  Lonergan managed to get a finger tip to it, but nearly parried it right into the path of an advancing Fulham attacker, fortunately Tim Ream was on hand to bundle the ball clear.

Up at the other end Bolton had very strong penalty appeals, when Vela's shot was blocked by the hand of a Fulham defender, waved away by the shitehouse of a referee, who then gave a free kick against Le Fondre, despite the fact that it was the striker who was impeded by a defender jumping on his back and pushing him to the ground.

It looked like it may be another frustrating game for the Whites, with you almost being able to sense the half time boos that were to come, thankfully however, Bolton managed to draw level before it came to that.

After being quiet for much of the half, Janko picked up the ball over on the right and then fizzed the ball into the box fairly hard, then Gudjohnsen displayed an outstanding first touch to control the ball and take it away from a defender, before cooly slotting into the net.

I can only imagine the goal was a massive confidence booster going in to half time.

The slow start which haunted the Trotters' first half was no where to be seen in the second, as they completely dominated a poor Fulham side until its conclusion. I don't even think Fulham had a shot in the second half.

Le Fondre got Bolton's first chance of the half, with a volley from distance that seemed to be deflected wide, but a goal kick was given. The forward was working tremendously hard and didn't cease to run and lead the line, but he was struggling to really get on the ball, through no fault of his own, as we still weren't playing to his strengths.

Janko cut in from the left hand side and saw his effort blocked, and then it looked as if Le Fondre had finally broken his Bolton goal duck, but his volley was somehow cleared off the line by Fulham.

Bolton were easily in control at this point, and the only threat posed to them was actually themselves. On a couple of occasions players were caught lackadaisical on the ball and had Fulham been a better team, they'd have punished us for it.

Thankfully, however, Fulham are utter shite and it was Bolton who continued to create the chances. David Wheater rose well to meet Bannan's corner kick, but his header was straight at Bettinelli in the Fulham goal and Le Fondre hit another troublesome volley towards the net, but the 'keeper parried it away.

Bannan, who was proving to be a real threat with his set pieces, then swung in a free kick which was met by the diving head of Le Fondre, but the goal again evade him and it was deflected wide.

Manchester United loanee Janko had really begun to come into his own down the right, and was proving ever dangerous with his pace and power. He cut inside onto his left foot but saw his effort cleared, and then won a corner after a fantastic, weaving run was finally brought to an end. Said corner was again a very dangerous one from Bannan, but the goalkeeper just about managed to palm it away.

Despite Bolton's dominance for pretty much all of the second half, they'd still not managed to find the elusive goal to put them ahead. With ten minutes to go, however, that all changed.

A Bolton corner was only half cleared and Vela managed to win back possession before Fulham could counter, ignoring the calls to shoot, he instead picked out Janko who was on the other side of the box. The young winger took one touch and, with the ball seemingly caught under his feet, hit a ferocious strike from the edge of the area that flew into the back of the net.

After finally getting in front, the Whites thought it'd be a good idea to then sit back and invite pressure upon themselves. Fulham never got a shot away in their brief spell of time in attack, but it's worrying all the same.

The Fulham goalie then seemed to have come down with something, as he tried to emulate Manuel Neauer by continuously charging out of his box. It worked the first couple of times, but then he made the horrendous mistake of giving the ball away to Le Fondre, who chipped him from 30 yards to finally score his first Bolton goal. A strike which will no doubt do him the world of good.

With the points firmly in the bag, Lennon introduced Filip Twardzik for his home debut, and his one contribution was squaring up to Scot Parker, which I'm sure is a move that we can all get behind.

The full time whistle blew and Bolton had claimed the whole three points, by beating Fulham 3-1, and climbed up to the lofty heights of 13th in the process.

It was very much a must win game for Bolton Wanderers after the poor results and performances lately, but they showed brilliant character to come from a goal behind and completely controlled the second half.