Kevin Nolan gave the watching Sven-Goran Eriksson a reminder of his goalscoring capability by scoring the winner as Bolton came from behind to beat Fulham at the Reebok Stadium.
The Wanderers skipper has been overlooked in the latest England squad and doesn’t appear to be in Eriksson’s thinking for the forthcoming World Cup. But the 23 year-old remains pivotal to Bolton’s Premier League plans and he hauled Sam Allardyce’s side back into the contest before striking a superb tenth goal of the season to register an important victory.
Heidar Helguson had put Fulham ahead in the first half but then scored a calamitous own goal right on half time to damage the chances of Chris Coleman’s side recording their first league away success of the season. The Icelandic international had already volleyed against the bar by the time he powered in a header from Simon Elliott’s excellent corner midway through the first half. Nolan thought he’d levelled matters just a minute later but he was rightly flagged offside and the Bolton skipper was booked for following through on Steed Malbranque. Fulham should have doubled their lead when Luis Boa Morte’s low cross eluded their forwards in the box and they paid the penalty in ridiculous fashion at the other end.
Stelios Giannakopoulos’ devilish cross was flicked towards goal by Bruno N’Gotty and, after a melee right in front of the Fulham goal, Helguson contrived to fire ball past the helpless Tony Warner from a couple of yards out. It was a comical goal to concede – although no-one in Fulham colours was able to see the funny side.
Bolton emerged reinvigorated in the second half with Nolan and Kevin Davies going close before Giannakopoulos nearly put the hosts in front with an audacious backheel from Davies’ cross. Allardyce’s side were now penning Fulham back deep in their own half and it was no surprise when Nolan fired them ahead from long range after darting in from the left flank and showing great skills to beat Zat Knight and Carlos Bocanegra. The Reebok joyously acclaimed a glorious goal – and, although Fulham piled on the pressure towards the end, they were unable to carve out a clear-cut chance.
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, N’Gotty, Jaidi, Gardner,Faye (Speed 60), Okocha (Ben Haim 90), Nakata (Vaz Te 82),Nolan, Giannakopoulos; Davies. Subs (not used): Walker, Borgetti.
GOALS: Helguson (o.g. 45).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Warner; Volz, Bridge, Bocanegra, Knight; Elliott, Malbranque, Radzinski (Diop 75), Boa Morte; McBride (John 75), Helguson. Subs (not used): Rosenior, Goma, N. Jensen.
BOOKED: Boa Morte.
GOAL: Helguson (22)
REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).