There was a joy to Fulham’s play tonight, and Bolton took a good old fashioned hammering. It’s the sort of game that encourages a good hard think: if we can defend really well (and we can) and attack really well (we sometimes can) then is the sky the limit? Probably not, as we won’t play a team as accommodating as Bolton again for a while. But this win, coupled with a few glimpses of glory along the way (Peterborough, Port Vale and Spurs have also been thrashed this campaign) does inspire optimism.
The Whites got off to a fine start as Muamba missed a great chance to give Bolton the lead. At the other end Dempsey went close. The then goal, Baird’s volley bouncing out slightly, Dempsey cavorting mid-air to thwack home a volley that his manager would have been proud of. The goal tied McBride and Malbranque’s Premier League goalscoring record.
Fulham were on fire. Simon Davies is a delight to watch in games like this, and having he and Murphy in the same side always makes us better in possession (remember when Davies first signed and he stood out because he could actually use the ball?). These two and Dembele were causing havoc, Dembele in particular proving impossible to tie down. He has an ice-hockey player’s turning circle, and can make defenders look stupid with his quick jinks. Alongside him Eidur Gudjohnson was enjoying himself, wandering around the Bolton defence and taking up crafty positions all evening. He nearly got a well deserved goal following a wonderful Baird through ball, but his shot on the run hit the base of the post and bounced out.
Fulham scored again in the early stages of the second half, Dempsey converting from close range with what Gary Lineker would have called a gambler’s run. He really is the king of the first time strike.
Hangeland added a third with a towering if underwhelming header (it looked really easy. I’m sure it wasn’t) and that was about that. Fulham were able to bring on all three subs, and Bobby Zamora was unfortunate to have a deliriously good fourth ruled out for handball after Simon Davies had committed footballing apocalypse on the right wing with some mindblowing skills.
All good, then.