A stunning first half from an impressive Fulham reserve side underlined their league credentials as a woeful Bolton never recovered from an early blitz of goals. The home side were four goals to the good thanks to some clinical finishing and incisive attacking play before twenty minutes were up, adding another two goals before half time and finishing off the rout with a seventh close to full time.
Fulham lined up a 4-4-2, with Harris in an unfamilar right back role and Frei next to Trotta uptop, whereas Bolton went with a 4-3-3 which included Stuart Holden making his first appearance since breaking his leg several months ago. It didn’t take long for Fulham to make a breakthrough, Kacaniklic breaking down the left and pulling the ball back to Trotta who in space could control the shot past the Bolton keeper. It promised to be a game full of goals as almost immediately Bolton had a golden chance to get one back. A long ball was sent down the left channel and Josh Passley, an Academy centre half, didn’t deal with it properly, allowing striker O’Hallaran to get between him and the ball. After cutting back onto his right foot he struck the ball at goal from 7 yards out but Etheridge made a great save to tip the ball onto the post and out of play.
Bolton would come to rue this opportunity; just a minute or so later Trotta was on the scoresheet again. Donegan under no pressure made a lovely measured clip from the half way line to Trotta who had a clear sight on goal. After chesting the ball down and holding off the pressure from the defender on the back of him he eventually struck the ball past a despairing Lynch with a neat half volley after miskicking his first attempt. The momentum was well and truely with Fulham who attacked incisively and with pace. Bolton were struggling to deal with what was relentless pressure from Fulham bodies who flew forward when they attacked, and Donegan was next on the score sheet, Kacaniklic again driving down the left wing before accurately finding Donegan who had made his way forward, controlled the pass and drove the ball into the net via the crossbar from 18 yards with an excellent finish.
It was threatening to turn into a humilation for Bolton, indeed the man of the moment Trotta didn’t need to wait for his hattrick, demonstating his lethal form for the U18s at this level when Frei ran forward on the break, drawing players to him. Trotta showed good awareness to peel out to the right side of the box which was vacated by defenders and he was found by Frei before calmly curling the ball along the ground into the bottom corner of the net. The White’s kept flooding forward in pace and numbers, Kacaniklic the next to threaten the back of the net, driving towards goal and striking at Lynch who got his body in the way but still the ball came out to Riise. This time his fierce shot from an angle smacked the post and went wide. Fulham were reminded though that it wasn’t always going to be this one way. Holden won a tackle from a deep Fulham midfielder and sent a slide rule pass through for O’Hallaran. The defenders were completely beaten for pace but O’Hallaran took his shot early and put it just past Etheridge’s left hand post. Odebayi on the left of Bolton’s attacking three also put a dangerous ball in the box, and again a ball over the top found the Fulham defence a bit square but Odebayi barely had time to collect it before Passley made a good tackle to eliminate the threat.
These Bolton openings were few and far between and mainly relied on balls behind the defence, they were struggling to put any real passing moves together and there was still enough going Fulham’s way to score twice before the break. The first, with an air of contraversy, started with the impressive Passley, who wondered into midfield with the ball and lofted the ball over Bolton’s defence, looking for Kacaniklic. Kacaniklic realised he was offside and left the ball for Trotta to run onto who took advantage of the confusion to find himself free on the right flank. In space he picked out the pass to Kacaniklic who was now in play to struck the ball first time past the keeper, a much deserved goal for a player who had a stormer of the first half. The Bolton defenders weren’t happy with the refereeing on that occassion but had no complaint about the sixth and Trotta’s fourth of the night. Passley got caught in possession and Bolton threatened to danger Etheridge’s goal, but Burn stepped across to intercept well following a heavy touch. Eventually the ball came again to Frei and Fulham broke, their counter attacking game superb all night. Running at the defence he waited to give the ball out to Riise who crossed the ball perfectly into Trotta’s path for him to sweep home. 6-0 at half time and to say the game was over is an understatement.
With the game totally wrapped up, you could forgive Fulham for taking the proverbial foot off the gas in the second half, happy enough to sit on their lead and without the incentive to go for much more. It wasn’t a suprise then to see the flow of the game become much more even in the second 45. Before kick off, Bolton made two attacking changes, hoping to rescue some pride out of the game. At the same time, Pritchard also came on for Gecov in a like for like change, a planned substituion most likely and the Czech international can be pleased with his first outing in a Fulham shirt with some sharp play.
It was immediately apparent that Bolton were going to be much more effective at stopping Fulham’s attacks. Their defence appeared more solid, compared to the sixes and sevens it was in during the first, and their tackling and closing down was much more aggressive. Not much came in the way of solid goal scoring opportunities however, although a hectic scramble in the Bolton box following a corner never fell kindly to a Fulham player before the ball was booted upfield. The visiters finally maintained some attacking pressure of their own. Odebayi showed glimpses of his athleticism in the first half but his pace was apparent as on several occassions he broke down the left into dangerous crossing positions, once striking a fierce shot on goal which Etheridge did well to handle and another capitalising on the hesitancy of Harris to chase a long ball to whip a cross in which flashed across the six yard box. On one ocassion Passley looked beaten for pace after buying a feint from O’Hallaran but made a really good tackle as the striker advanced on goal. The resultant corner was cleared but found its way out to Bolton’s left flank again, this time a ball from deep found Eckersley who forced Etheridge into a another good stop. The Fulham keeper had to be sharp again to come out to a Bolton striker through on goal after Donegan missed a tackle to invite the player on. The ball was thread through the defence but the attempt to pull one back was thrawted by the Phillipines international
There was still room for Fulham to push for a seventh. Trotta missed a chance for his fifth of the evening as a ball over the top found Frei in space behind the full back, before beating the defender easily to take him to the byline, unfortunately for the young Italian running in on goal the ball came at him fairly akwardly and on the corner of the six yard box so when he struck it it went a fair distance over. He did manage to find a fifth though close to the final whistle. Pritchard won the ball in midfield and with the right back caught a few yards upfield fed Kacaniklic down the left. A player on fire as much as him would never turn down the opportunity to make it a hattrick of assists and cut the ball back accurately once again for Trotta to cap off a sensational performance by man and team.
FULHAM RESERVES (4-4-2): Etheridge; Harris, Passley, Burn, Smith; B Riise (Brister 61), Donegan, Gecov (Pritchard 45), Kacaniklic; Frei (Peniket 82), Trotta. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Dean.
GOALS: Trotta (4, 6, 15, 41, 82), Donegan (7), Kacaniklic (25),
BOLTON RESERVES (4-3-3): Lynch; Battersby (Fazlic), Dennis (Odelusi), Eckersley, McQuade; Riley, Blakeman, Holden (Fielding); Vela, Obadeyi, O’Halloran. Subs (not used): McGregor, Proudfoot.