Before the game began, reprorts trickled out that Mark Schwarzer would not be playing in net for Fulham. However, his replacement playing in his fourth appearance for the club gave an excellent performance. David Stockdale could not be rattled at the Reebok in net. The overall performance of the club was solid. The first half was pretty even between the clubs. In the second half, especially the last 15 minutes of the game, Fulham were pressing and looked the better side. Unfortunately they could not score and the game ended 0 - 0 at the Reebok.
The first half was pretty even between the two clubs. I would have to give the slight edge to Fulham. The big news is that in the beginning of the game David Stockdale was solid in net. He was in for the injured Mark Schwarzer who was a game time decision.
Fulham had some nice passing in the beginning of the match. This passing led to a shot on net by Danny Murphy. His shot just went wide, but the build up was encouraging.
As I mentioned this was a pretty even half and Bolton had their chances. In the 14th minute, Martin Petrov made a real nice run and it looked like he was going to have a good chance to score. However, John Pantsil made a great tackle which took away a potential shot from Bolton. Shortly afterwards , Bolton had a corner which was taken by Stuart Holden. This led to a header which was easily saved by Stockdale.
Petrov would have a chance to make an impact in the 18th minute. He had a nice shot on the left side which is nicely saved by Stockdale.
The best chance for Fulham came in the 21st minute. Bobby Zamora took a long range chip shot that went over the goalkeeper and almost floated in the net. Unfortunately the ball just went over the net. In the 23rd minute Zoltan Gera had a long range shot. Gera would have another chance in the 31st minute off of a corner kick by Damien Duff. His header would go wide of the net.
Overall the first half was entertaining but there were no goals by either side. The first half ended scoreless 0 -0.
The second half began with Bolton coming out stronger than the Cottagers. In the 47th minute, Stuart Holden took a long range shot that went over the net. This was followed up by a great chance for Bolton. In the 48th minute, Johan Elmander had a great strike that was inside the box. David Stockdale got his hand on the ball and pushed it over the net.
The Bolton pressure continued a little later. In the 62nd minute, Johan Elmander made a great run and his shot was nicely save by Stockdale. Stuart Holden had one of the best chances of the match. In the 78th minute, Holden's strike on the left side hits the post. Fulham were fortunate at this point to still be tied.
However, the rest of the match was all Fulham. They were the attacking side. Ironically the change in pace happened when Clint Dempsey entered the game . He replaced Zoltan Gera who also had a solid game. In the 79th minute, Clint Dempsey took a nice shot on the right hand side of the field that was saved by the goalkeeper.
Fulham's attacking play would continue. In the 81st minute Stephen Kelly put a shot on net. In the 83rd minute, Dickson Etuhu got a nice strike on net just outside of the box. In the 84th minute a nice pass from Dempsey to Zamora was intercepted by the goalkeeper.
In the 89th minute Fulham had a corner kick. Off of the corner, Zamora heads the ball to Aaron Hughes who's header was saved by the goalkeeper. The play was all Fulham late in this match. As we went to 3 minutes of extra time Fulham dominated with a few corners and constantly in the Bolton end. However, all of the pressure by the Cottagers could not lead to a goal. The game ended with a 0 -0 draw.
On the road, Fulham have been very poor the last few seasons. I noticed a different away team watching the game today. They were very aggressive and definitely went for the win. I am pretty confident that Mark Hughes will be happy with the effort in the second half.
The back four were great today. Stephen Kelly played a great game filling in for the injured Paul Konchesky. Dickson Etuhu stood out in the central midfield. Up top Bobby Zamora was physical and in good form. As I mentioned prior, Clint Dempsey coming in late in the game gave the Cottagers a boost. It was a nice effort all around by the club.
However, the one player who really stood out was Fulham's goalkeeper David Stockdale. Fulham might have a young promising goalkeeper of the future. Only time will tell if Stockdale will become a consistent goalkeeper. In Fulham's first game of the season, Stockdale was as solid as can be in a 0 - 0 draw at Bolton.