A sensational strike from Adam Le Fondre punished Fulham’s failure to finish a hatful of chances as the Whites’ winning run ended in a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers this afternoon.
The former Reading forward, a regular scourge of Fulham in the past, answered Phil Parkinson’s call in the grandest of manners just minutes after stepping off the bench at the Macron Stadium. Marcus Bettinelli stood absolutely no chance with a dipping half volley from the left wing, which flew into the far corner at pace. It was some way for Le Fondre to score his first goal since the season’s opening day.
Until Le Fondre’s wonder goal arrived from nowhere, Fulham looked in complete command. Slavisa Jokanovic’s paid the penalty for failing to build on Matt Targett’s fifth minute opener. The left back headed home Lucas Piazon’s flick from a Ryan Sessegnon cross to get off the mark for the Cottagers but Fulham passed up several opportunities to put the game beyond Bolton.
The clearest of those came two minutes later when Rui Fonte robbed David Wheater and raced clear but placed a tame shot too close to Ben Alnwick. Fulham played plenty of pretty football but couldn’t extend their lead before the break with Sessegnon’s snapshot bravely blocked by Mark Beevers.
Bolton’s best openings came courtesy of their little and large strike partnership: Zac Clough and Sammy Ameobi. Clough forced Bettinelli to tip over a rising drive and then perhaps should have then better than shooting at the Fulham goalkeeper when the former Newcastle forward played him in.
Jokanovic opted to add more attacking options after the break, introducing Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara. The Serbian’s double change almost had the desired effect but the Frenchman sidefooted wide from close range after a flowing Fulham move moments after coming on.
In a frustrating second period, Fulham had to weather some serious home pressure after Le Fondre’s stunning intervention. He almost made it two with a deflected drive that Bettinelli did well to parry and then turned provider for Josh Vela, whose long-range effort just cleared the crossbar.
The Whites applied concerted pressure of their own to Alnwick’s goal late but failed to work the Wanderers goalkeeper enough. Mitrovic, who still lacked sharpness, sent a shot on the turn agonisingly wide and Wheater smothered a Kamara shot at source.
The visitors’ best chance arrived two minutes from time. Stefan Johansen’s superb run took him from the right wing to a shooting position six yards out but he shot into the side netting from the acutest of angles with three team mates waiting for a tap in. Fulham will have to rediscover their finishing instincts ahead of Aston Villa’s visit to Craven Cottage next weekend.
BOLTON WANDERERS (4-4-2): Alnwick; Little (Morais 59), Dervite, Wheater, Beevers; Henry, Derik, Robinson, Vela; Ameobi (Walker 89), Clough (Le Fondre 59). Subs (not used): Howard, Burke, Flanagan, A. Taylor.
BOOKED: Little, Henry.
GOAL: Le Fondre (61).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Targett, Kalas, Ream; McDonald, Norwood (Cairney 74), Johansen; Piazon (Kamara 51), R. Sessegnon, Fonte (Mitrovic 51). Subs (not used): Button, Odoi, Christie, Ayite.
GOAL: Targett (5).
REFEREE: Robert Jones (Liverpool).