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New hope for Fulham and Bolton
April 13, 2008 10:41 IST
Fulham and Bolton Wanderers earned Premier League lifelines on Saturday with victories over Reading and West Ham United respectively to keep their survival hopes alive with four games remaining.
Goals by Brian McBride and Erik Nevland secured Fulham's 2-0 win, their first away success in the league in 19 months, while Bolton ended a dire run with a 1-0 home victory over West Ham courtesy of a Kevin Davies goal.
With Birmingham City drawing 1-1 at home to Everton, the day's results have tightened up the battle at the bottom.
Derby County, already relegated and thumped 6-0 at home by Aston Villa on Saturday, are bottom on 11 points. Fulham have 27, Bolton 29, Birmingham 31, Reading 32 and Wigan Athletic, with a game in hand, on 34.
The top four are in action later this weekend as on Sunday leaders Manchester United [Images] play Arsenal [Images] at Old Trafford and Liverpool face Blackburn Rovers while Chelsea host Wigan on Monday.
Everton are two points behind Liverpool on 61 points, Portsmouth after sixth on 57 after a goalless home draw with Newcastle United while Villa have 55.
Fulham had not won away from Craven Cottage since beating Newcastle in September 2006 but even when American striker McBride put them ahead after 24 minutes their fans would not have been getting too excited.
On 12 previous occasions this season they had taken the lead in league games but only twice did they go on to win.
This time, however, they continued to play with confidence and, after hitting the bar three times in the second half, made sure of the points in injury time.
"It was vital to get that away win as we had three out of five away games to come before today [and] there wouldn't have been enough home games to get us out of trouble," Fulham manager Roy Hodgson told Sky Sports.
"Other teams are picking up points so of course there is still a risk but while there is life there is hope and the performance will have given the players a boost."
Bolton had not won a league game since the start of February and when Davies had two first-half efforts cleared off the line it was looking as if that run would continue.
However, the burly striker found a way through early in the second half, much to the delight of manager Gary Megson.
"These are the good days, we got the three points and it was absolutely imperative that we did," he said.
"It's not easy in that situation yet we did play and got the result I thought we deserved."
Birmingham's focus cannot have been helped by the midweek arrest of directors David Sullivan and Karren Brady on fraud charges and when Joleon Lescott scored for Everton in the 78th minute things looked bleak.
However, a great freekick from Argentine substitute Mauro Zarate earned what might prove to be a vital point.
In other games, Manchester City won 2-1 at Sunderland while Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at home with Middlesbrough.