Jimmy Bullard’s first goal for Fulham rescued a point for the Whites in injury-time against Bolton at Craven Cottage. Wanderers had themselves gone in front from the spot some eighteen minutes earlier and looked on course to take all three points back to Lancashire, before Bullard stepped up to beat Jussi Jaaskelainen earning Chris Coleman’s side a share of the spoils.
Before the two penalties, this contest didn’t have an awful lot to recommend it. The hosts began warily, regularly giving away possession, and it was Sam Allardyce’s side who made the early running. Heidar Helguson did a brilliant job back in his own penalty area to prevent Kevin Davies from opening the scoring. Davies then felled Franck Queudrue with a late challenge and Fulham should have taken the lead from Bullard’s free-kick but Brian McBride, recalled after being left out at Old Trafford, headed disappointingly at Jaaskelainen. Bullard’s set play delivery soon fashioned another chance for Ian Pearce, but the big centre half headed wide at the back post.
The second half was marginally more entertaining. Liam Rosenior lifted in a good cross from the right that Helguson headed off target and Michael Brown drew a good save from Jaaskelainen when he connected with a Luis Boa Morte cross. Tal Ben Haim stabbed wide after being found by Ivan Campo’s free-kick before the Israeli defender came to Bolton’s rescue after Boa Morte appeared to have put Helguson in the clear. Ben Haim read the danger and rescued the situation with a saving tackle.
The visitors went in front from the penalty spot with eighteen minutes to go. Alan Wiley decreed that Boa Morte had brought down Kevin Nolan as he chased a cross from El-Hadji Diouf, sparking lengthy Fulham protests. The Senegalese striker dinked a clever penalty into the top corner and Bolton looked like they would hang on as they weathered a late Fulham storm that saw both McBride and Helguson head wide. In the last minute of normal time, Amdy Faye inexplicably handled Boa Morte’s header and Bullard’s home debut ended in the perfect manner – as a hero in front of the Hammersmith End.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Quedrue, Christanval, Pearce; Diop, Bullard, Brown (Radzinski 81), Boa Morte; McBride, Helguson (John 69). Subs (not used): Drobny, Bocanegra, Volz.
GOAL: Bullard (pen 90).
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-3-3): Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Meite, Ben Haim, Fortune (Pedersen 66); Nolan, Campo, Speed; Vaz Te, Davies (Faye 60), Diouf. Subs (not used): Walker, Giannakopoulos, Tal
BOOKED: Davies, Diouf, Nolan.
REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).