|Fulham are held to a 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers.|
2 mins – GOAL ROVERS – Coles
The Whites got their FA Cup campaign off to the worst possible start when, after just two minutes, the visitors scored. The Whites failed to deal with a long throw into the box, allowing the ball to bounce in the area and Danny Coles was on hand to fire past Niemi via a deflection.
Fulham were looking unperturbed by the early goal and continued to probe for a way back into the match. Clint Dempsey had the ball in the back of the net on 10 minutes after Dejan Stefanovic won a header in the Rovers area – however the referee had already blown for an infringement.
23 mins – Bouazza OFF – Baird ON
Hameur Bouazza’s participation in the match ended just after the 20 minute mark when the Algerian international seemingly dislocated his shoulder as he chased a ball down the left wing. Chris Baird came on in place of Bouazza as Roy Hodgson was forced to reshuffle his side. Simon Davies switched wings and Moritz Volz was pushed up to the right flank with Baird filling in at right back.
A quickly taken Danny Murphy free kick almost brought about an equaliser when David Healy found half a yard and fired a snap shot past the far post.
To the credit of Paul Trollope’s men, Rovers were sticking to their game plan and Fulham were making hard work of finding a way through the well organised ranks of green shirts.
40 mins – GOAL FULHAM – Healy
The Whites got back on level footing just before the interval when the Rovers defence failed to deal with a high ball played into the box.. The ball eventually dropped to David Healy who calmly placed his header beyond the grasp of Steve Phillips.
The goal looked to have reinvigorated the Whites, who were now passing the ball that much crisper and with greater penetration. However Rovers were still largely thwarting Fulham’s attempts to thread the ball through the middle.
Fulham started the second half in confident mood with Danny Murphy and Alexey Smertin looking to dictate the pace of the game from midfield. Murphy, who had gone close to giving Fulham the lead early in the second half, was playing a slightly deeper role than Smertin, allowing him to mop up any loose balls and keep Fulham’s attacks ticking over.
Fulham had a loud penalty appeal turned down in the 54th minute as their passing game was starting to open up gaps in the Bristol Rovers defence. Dempsey received a pass with his back to goal and flicked the ball around his marker before being brought to ground by a heavy tackle.
Playing with visibly greater width further up the pitch Fulham were starting to create more openings. However, despite getting into promising positions, the White were reluctant to pull the trigger.
The visitors were not without threat. Sammy Igoe snatched at a good chance in the area, firing his volley of the bar from 10 yards as Rovers started to exert pressure of their own.
64 mins – GOAL ROVERS – Hinton
Rovers topped of a period of sustained pressure with a well taken goal on 64 minutes. David Pipe delivered a well-weighted free kick into the Fulham area and Craig Hinton rose highest to place an angled header past Antti Niemi, sending the hoards of Rovers supporters in the Putney End wild.
72 mins - Fulham Substitution – Smertin & Volz OFF – Seol & Davis ON
73 mins – GOAL FULHAM – Murphy
Fulham were back on level terms almost immediately following the restart. Clint Dempsey held the ball up well on the edge of the penalty area before laying a pass into the path of Murphy who cannoned a right footed effort into the top corner. Phillips, the Rovers custodian, was able to get a hand to the ball but the power of the shot carried it in.
Fulham turned the screw once more as the match entered the closing stages. Clint Dempsey came close to giving the Whites the lead for the first time when he turned and shot just over the angle of the bar from seven yards.
Rovers substitute, Sean Rigg, stung Antti Niemi’s palms late on when he shaped as if to shoot before trying to beat the Finn at his near post. Niemi could only parry the effort before Chris Baird cleared to safety.
Competition: The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
Date: Sunday 6 January 2008
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.