Premier League round-up

Bolton and Fulham boost hopes as hapless Derby hit for six

Bolton and Fulham claimed crucial victories to renew their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier League.

The Cottagers' 2-0 success away to Reading drags Steve Coppell's men back towards the drop zone, while Bolton's home win over West Ham means they are now just two points adrift of Birmingham.

Alex McLeish's men had to come from behind to draw 1-1 against UEFA Champions League hopefuls Everton but remain in grave danger of being sucked back into the bottom three.

Derby's miserable season cannot finish quickly enough, with Roy Carroll enduring an afternoon to forget against rampant Aston Villa.

Carroll was brutally exposed on six occasions at Pride Park as the Rams were given another cruel lesson in Premier League life.

Sunderland are still not safe after going down 2-1 at home to Manchester City, while Middlesbrough claimed an important point away to Tottenham.


Kevin Davies was the hero for Bolton against West Ham, firing home from close range two minutes after the interval after Robert Green and Jonathan Spector got in each other's way.

The opportunity came from Kevin Nolan's corner, which arrived after Green tipped Davies' header onto the top of the bar.

Goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi had to be at his best to keep the Trotters in front, producing a breathtaking stop to tip Dean Ashton's superb overhead kick over the bar.

Goals in either half from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland brought Fulham to within four points of safety and leaves Reading glancing nervously over their shoulder.

McBride bundled home the first from close range in the 24th minute, getting on the end of Simon Davies' dangerous low cross.

And Nevland made it 2-0 in the second minute of added time, beating Marcus Hahnemann with a low drive after being released by Davies, although the goalkeeper really should have done better.

It was Fulham's first success on their travels since September 2006 and could not have come at a better time for Roy Hodgson's men.

Mauro Zarate scored a priceless equaliser for Birmingham seven minutes from time against Everton, who had gone in front through Joleon Lescott in the 78th minute.

The Toffees defender nodded home from under the crossbar after Lee Carsley's clever chip to the far post had been headed goalwards by Aiyegbeni Yakubu.

But Argentinian Zarate, who is fast acquiring cult status at St Andrews, curled home a stunning free-kick from the edge of the area.


Derby's problems against Aston Villa began in the 25th minute when Ashley Young's curling free-kick was completely missed by Carroll under pressure from Olof Mellberg and drifted into the back of the net.

And it was 2-0 with Villa's very next attack as Alan Stubbs could only hook Gareth Barry's ball into the box towards his own goal where Carroll slid in to clear, only to find Carew on the edge of the area who drilled it back in with interest.

The ball flicked off Gabriel Agbonlahor, who was stood in an offside position behind Carroll, on its way into the net, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Petrov then added a stunning third before the break, chesting down Carroll's weak clearance just inside the Derby half before finding the top corner with a sumptuous half-volley.

The home defence went AWOL again in the second period, with Carroll's save from Agbonlahor to no avail as Barry was on hand to tap home.

Agbonlahor added a fifth in the 76th minute, bursting clear to fire a low shot across Carroll and into the bottom corner before Marlon Harewood completed the rout five minutes from time.


Sunderland's run of three successive victories was brought to an unexpected end by Manchester City at the Stadium of Light.

A previously forgettable encounter exploded into life in the final 11 minutes with Mike Riley pointing to the spot after Daniel Sturridge went down in the box despite an apparent lack of contact from Nyron Nosworthy.

Elano stepped up to roll home the penalty, only for Dean Whitehead to volley the Black Cats level soon after from Andy Reid's cross.

But there was still time for Darius Vassell to scuff the opener beyond Craig Gordon after Elano had opened up the previously impressive home defence.

Middlesbrough moved a step closer to being certain of preserving their top-flight status with a point against Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Spurs went ahead in the 27th minute when Jermaine Jenas found Dimitar Berbatov, who showed great skill to flick the ball up and then cross to the back post where Aaron Lennon's shot was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Jonathon Grounds.

But Boro levelled after the break when Stewart Downing picked the ball up 35 yards out and unleashed a long-range effort which deflected off the head of Jenas and beyond the helpless Radek Cerny.

All square

The game that looked sure to deliver goals, Portsmouth v Newcastle, proved the only encounter to finish scoreless.

Newcastle were lucky to escape a penalty appeal when Kanu's shot hit Steven Taylor's foot and bounced up and hit his arm.

Both sides could have won the game in the second half, but Michael Owen could only find David James from point-blank range, while Jermain Defoe was unable to find the back of the net with two half-chances.