Posts Tagged ‘Erik Nevland’

Bolton 0-0 Fulham: Fortunate, Fortunate Fulham

February 7, 2010

This match will certainly not feature in the pantheon of footballing history but it was a good result nonetheless.  Bobby Zamora joined the ranks of the injured with a 48hr flu virus meaning the Fulham frontline looked especially weak.  Whilst David Elm put in a good performance up top, showing off his excellent first touch, Erik Nevland easily had his worst game in a Fulham shirt.  I don’t usually question the wisdom of Roy Hodgson, but if I had the choice between a 32 yr old 5’9″ poacher or a 6’1″ powerhouse to play against Bolton I would certainly choose the latter. I would hope that this signals the end of Nevland as a starter, but I doubt it.

The game itself was scrappy. Bolton were certainly not scintillating but Fulham had decided that a point was enough, and they did not want to go for any more. Jonathan Greening nipped at the heels of any Bolton player who got near him, producing a large number of niggly fouls that went largely unpunished, creating an disjointed performance from the hosts. Bolton seemed happy to hoof it long to Davies (who had an excellent match) and go from there.  Schwarzer was the Fulham saviour, pulling off several excellent saves and generally controlling the box. When a Kevin Davies flick led to Mark Davies firing hard and low from around the penalty spot I was sure that it was all over for Fulham, only for Schwazer to get down and block with his legs and send the ball spinning up and off the bar to safety. His second super-human save was arguably better. As Chung-Yong Lee burst into the Fulham penalty area, Schwarzer stuck out an arm and diverted the ball away from goal and Lee to be cleared by Baird.

Fulham brought on Chris Smalling and Okaka up front for Elm and the ineffective Nevaland. I spent the remainder of the match daydreaming about a possible Smalling goal ( I think he has one in him before he leaves Fulham) and enjoyed Okakas energy and willingness to run at the opponents defence, one of which resulted in a free kick in a dangerous position (a la Dio Kamara against Villa in the great escape season). In truth Bolton should have won, first when Elmander was one on one with Schwarzer but contrived to screw it wide, and then more legitimately when Davies put the ball in the back of the net, only to have it ruled out for a push only Mark Clattenburg could see.

I get the feeling this was a big point for a squad that is being stretched to its limit, a bit of luck came Fulham’s way and is greatly received. If Fulham can continue their fine home form against Burnley on Tuesday night this will have been a great few weeks and should allow us the luxury of focusing on the various cup competitions we are still competing in.

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Fulham 3-0 Blackburn

November 26, 2009

A well received victory by the Fulham faithful. It is interesting that we cannot play 90 mins of good football this season. For the first 44 minutes it was all Blackburn, out hustling Fulham to every ball, passing with determination and creating all of the chances. Not that they created many of quality. It could have been so different had Franco di Santo knocked the ball past Schwarzer in the 3rd minute, but a solid block and good covering from Aaron Hughes prevented any damage being done.

Fulham looked lost for the half, the midfield swamped, the fullbacks pinned back and the enigmatic Clint Dempsey pulling an invisible man. But with Blackburn asking all of the questions but failing to find any answers, an excellent and decisive Fulham counter attack, started and finished by Norwegians, put us ahead on the stroke of half time.  Brilliant one touch football reminiscent of the counter attack goal against stoke last year had proven successful. Fulham didnt deserve it, but they would certainly take it.

The second half was a completely different kettle of fish. Fulham passed the ball beautifully and with new found confidence, the excellent Baird patrolling the centre of the pitch, Duff starting to threaten. When Zamora was brought off due to injury and Dempsey moved up front, however, there was a question lingering over the effectiveness of the front line against a burly Blackburn defence. But the answer for the brawn of Blackburn was the brain of Fulham, invigorated by the grand wizard of footballing intellectualism himself Roy Hodgson at the half. Fulham looked lively up front and it wasn’t long before Fulham scored again. Duff cut inside onto his left, curling the ball into the area for an instinctive dempsey to pounce on and fire  into the net. Game over.

Nevland then missed when it was easier to score, after good interplay with Dempsey but the game was rounded out in style with 3 minutes remaining.  A good run by Simon Davies was rewarded with a slide rule pass by Paintsil. Davies then crossed low to Dempsey who turned his marked and fired home. If after 44 minutes you had told someone that Fulham would win 3-0 after dominating the second half you would have been laughed at, but thats football I suppose.

 

There were many interesting side stories to the match. Firstly, I am not sure where Dempsey plays best. As Rich has pointed out over at Craven Cottage Newsround, Dempsey scores his goals from close range. He is incredibly composed in front of goal for a midfielder, instead acting more like a poacher a la Nevland. His turn up front was excellent and Fulham looked dangerous. This is good news and gives us yet another option to mix things up and possibly more of a replacement for Bobby if he gets injured.

Secondly, Nevland and Dempsey have struck up quite the partnership. Against Liverpool (I Know it was only against 9 men) they combined well for  a late goal, and against Blackburn they seemed to form a fairly natural partnership. Maybe this is Nevlands best partner.

Thirdly, we are not a long ball team. It may be obvious, but someone needed to tell the team in the first half. Last season against Blackburn, Fulham played the second half ‘Blackburns way’ and ended up capitulating. Almost the opposite this time out, lets hope this is kept up for Bolton at the weekend.