Date: 21st February 2011 at 12:55pm
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Yes, I know that it sounds like a 21st Century update of an Agatha Christie novel, bringing to mind Poirot shuffling down the Kings Road to use his little grey cells on how a team of twelve northern ruffians, dressed all in blue, came down and stole an FA Cup Quarter-Final place from those decent coves from SW6.

As Captain Hastings would intone, ‘I say..’

Obviously, nothing of the sort happened, but that hasn’t stopped the Sky Sports report making out like T’Trotters and their rag tag bunch of supporters had come out with a game plan of kicking Fulham up and down the pitch.

Even when a Fulham player should have been sent off, Chris Baird shoving Martin Petrov in the face as retaliation for the Bulgarian accidentally catching him with his arm, they say that Petrov should have gone as well.

‘Bolton’s physical centre-back pairing of David Wheater and Gary Cahill were effective in crowding out Andrew Johnson and Moussa Dembele, if not always legal.’

‘Wheater was fortunate to receive only a lecture from referee Stuart Attwell after he hauled Dembele to the ground in the build-up to a promising move.’

‘Cahill went through the back of Johnson once…’

‘Fulham were having to battle against Bolton’s physicality…’

‘Robinson charged furiously to protest and was booked for dissent.’

When looking at how the press report the ‘physicallity’ of Bolton’s game, I like to look at how many fouls were committed by the opposing teams, and a quick look shows that, while Bolton fouled Fulham eleven times, Fulham reciprocated three times less.

Now, I’m no fan of Stuart Attwell, a referee who still manages to get top games when it has been proved time and time again that he is just not up to the job, but if you disregard the booking for Robbo for his, probably, colloquial language, and Petrov’s unfortunate card for facebutting Baird’s hand, Bolton players were only booked twice for tackling. As help, young Attwell had Darren Cann, a World Cup Final linesman, who will have noticed anything untoward going on.

Of the game from a Bolton perspective, once the goal was scored, it was a well organised defensive display, that only allowed Fulham only two real chances, both dealt with by Adam Bogdan. Shorn of Mark Davies with a stomach bug, midfield was patrolled by Stuart Holden and Fabrice Muamba.

And Muamba was involved in Bolton’s goal on the ninteenth minute. A quick one two between Klasnic and Lee, after the Korean had picked up a loose Fulham ball, broke to Muamba. Putting the ball back into the box at speed, the Fulham defence could only loop the ball towards Klasnic, who finished well with his left.

Two games, two goals. Danny who?

After that, Fulham controlled the game without making much progress and it was no surprise that the half finished with just the one goal.

Chances for Bolton game in the second half, Klasnic again forcing Schwarzer into a good save, before Petrov fired low to the Australian keepers right. Fulham welcomed Bobby Zamora back onto the pitch like some sort of returning war hero, rather than a 30 year old striker who has had a very patchy career. To be fair to the striker, he did have Fulham’s best two chances of the half, first firing a dipping short just over the bar, before forcing Bogdan to race from his line, which caused Zamora to skew a shot wide.

Fulham, however, were not the team that had put Spurs to the sword so admirably a few weeks ago. With little to no invention up front, there was not much for the central defensive partnership to do and this made three clean sheets in the three games that they have played together. This, and thanks to Marc Iles for pointing it out, is the first time we have three kept consecutive clean sheets since the beginning of 2008. That the majority of this time has seen the Cahill/Wheater partnership can surely be no coincidence and, as such, I may have been wrong about Wheater.

Hold that front page.

The sixth round draw was kinder than it could have been when the last three balls contained us, United and The Arse/Arse End of the East End. Birmingham have had a couple of good cup runs this season and will be difficult to beat at St. Andrews. However, how they go about the game will take in a lot of factors.

First, how they do against The Arse in the League Cup Final next Sunday. Win and they’re in Europe, something I don’t think even Alex McLeish’s mother would have seen coming at the beginning of the season. If this happens, they well may stuff the FA Cup and concentrate on their league position.

If they lose the final, they may well still be in a dire position league wise but, with a run in that includes none of the big boys (if you discount us) until they face Spurs on the last day, McLeish may well choose a full strength side.

So you would say, come on Birmingham next Sunday. However, if they do win, that takes away one of the Europa League spots that we are shooting for, making it all the more likely that we will have to at least get to the final to qualify for Europe.

Too many decisions for a Monday, I’m afraid.


4 Replies to “Mugging at the Cottage”

  • So that’s what you meant by “totally totally wrong substitution”. Yes, I read your Twitter. Must say that Wheater and Cahill are not exactly two peas in a pod; one is elegant and quick, the other a bit of a hoofer, to be honest (guess which way round that goes). At one point, Wheats had a hold of Dembele’s shirt whilst being about a metre behind him (which I found hilarious). Can’t argue with three clean sheets though. Most confused about the Baird/Petrov tete a tete. Linesman clearly saw Baird hit Petrov in the face but only saw fit to advise Attwell that it was a yellow. Fulham fans have alleged that Petrov spat at Baird but I didn’t see anything of the sort (although being sat in the “neutral” end, I would have need binoculars to see it!) Impressed with Alonso despite his inability to cross. Nice to have him as an option but disappointed that no Moreno showing and that Mark Davies wasn’t even on the subs. Finally, I have now seen Paul Robinson topless. That’s me waking up with cold sweats for the next month.

  • Nice to have a run of clean sheets (nothing to do with a bare chested Robinson honest), nice to have become difficult to beat again. It will be interesting to see how Brum approach the next round, suspect they will lose Sunday, but will be embroiled in the relegation fight come our game.

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