By 90Min
October 30, 2017

Fulham were spared from an embarrassing defeat on Saturday thanks to a last-gasp 94th-minute equaliser from a rejuvenated Tom Cairney against rock-bottom Bolton Wanderers, a rasping bullet header - subject to a delicate clip into the danger area provided by Kevin McDonald on the left flank - from the enigmatic Scotsman which mercifully pegged the scoreline back to 1-1.

Salvaging a meagre point at Craven Cottage does signify the level of intent within the Whites' ranks to fight until the very last breath of proceedings, however opportunities throughout the tie down by the river went wanting against Phil Parkinson's stragglers, even if Floyd Ayite's slotted finish, which was adjudged to be offside, was in fact onside by at least three yards or more.

Fulham are now resting mid-table in 13th position with 19 points and just four wins to their name, with only one of those triumphs coming on their home patch against Hull City. A home should be a fortress, and though the Whites have been impressive on the road, their sturdy away performances have to be mirrored in-front of a home crowd, who are understandably desperate to see their once imperious, free-scoring side burst into action.

Furthermore, if the south-west Londoners are to clamber up the standings to unsteady the leading top-six pack, Slavisa Jokanovic's men have to stamp-out the damning habit of conceding soft, lackadaisical goals, a drawback which was yet again exploited against the Trotters in the 28th minute when Sammy Ameobi bullied his way past Fulham's feeble defensive contingent to rifle his effort past David Button and into the bottom right corner of the net.

Fulham characteristically dominated the lion's share of the possession, but despite their relentless pressure and probing which had Bolton scrambling at times, the Cottagers could not grasp supremacy, which subsequently lead to an anxious, somewhat familiar closing period.

McDonald was a saving grace for Fulham on the day; the 28-year-old midfielder's regimental presence in the middle of the park buoyed his teammates towards the target, though many believe that if Stefan Johansen started the encounter, 'K-Mac' would have had an extra offensive outlet alongside Cairney to work with - the Norwegian's absence from the starting fold was baffling, and 'Slav' should ultimately know better than to let one of his most influential players miss out on the action from the first whistle.

Before the international break at the end of September, it seemed that Aboubakar Kamara had finally found his feet for his new employers after a limp start to life in the capital. Snatching at chances plagued his game at the start of the 2017/18 campaign, though the teething problems which formally hampered his credibility unfortunately arose again against Bolton, with all four of the Frenchman's shots coming to no avail.

Neeskens Kebano also had an opportunity to level the scoreline earlier after Ryan Fredericks' cross bounded towards him, although the Congolese winger ruefully rocketed his connection over the crossbar from near point-blank range after emerging as a second-half substitute. The 26-year-old also found himself clean through on the target, but Bolton's Ben Alnwick stood firm to deflect his strike away from danger.

Fulham were let off the hook on one particular occasion when Button's limp attempt at a clearance was picked-up by Adam Armstrong with the goal at his mercy. The England Under-21 international should have stuck the ball away, however the Newcastle United loanee failed to divert. 

Button has been in inspired form so far this term, but his distribution has been put under the magnifying glass time and time again, and if Fulham are to prosper defensively the former Brentford stopper has to work on his kicking to make them effective rather than defective to his team's cause.

Ker Robertson/GettyImages

In the aftermath of the shared points with Bolton, Fulham will need to take the positives from the match rather than the negatives in their stride, although that's not to say that the Whites have not learned a lesson or two from their spurned afternoon at CC against opponents which they should have brutishly buried.

Unearthing their killer instinct within the final third of the pitch once more needs to become a priority over the coming weeks, though that also has to be matched across the squad in all departments - defensively they have to become ruthlessly rigid, and in the midfield they all have to be singing from the same hymn's page if they're going to grow into a menacingly formidable unit for the remainder of the season.

At the end of October last year Fulham were 11th with 21 points. As it stands to date the gulf in form is not drastically dissimilar to the previous season, although every point and record will count come the closing of the current campaign, so if Fulham are to achieve a second consecutive promotion push in this domestic calendar they have to start hoovering up the victories with maximum, inexorable conviction, or risk being left behind in the mediocrity of the middle of the pack indefinitely. 

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