Following last weekend's Barclays Premier League draw with Wigan Athletic Roy Hodgson made three changes to his starting eleven for Saturday's Fifth Round FA Cup tie against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
After long haul return journeys from midweek international games Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil were rested for Zoltan Gera and Fredrik Stoor respectively. In attack Erik Nevland was handed his first start of the season, replacing Bobby Zamora in attack alongside Andy Johnson.
Swansea City were in buoyant mood coming into Saturday's clash following their Fourth Round win over 2007/08 FA Cup Winners, Porstmouth. After last weekend's convincing three-nil win over Ipswich Town Roberto Martinez kept faith with a familiar Swansea line-up with Jason Scotland, "only 60% fit" according his manager, looking to add to his season's tally of 16 goals in 26 appearances.
Fulham's manager admitted it was a "jaded performance" from his side on Saturday after the midweek internationals. Fulham got Saturday's 12.45pm kick-off underway but it was Swansea who created a host of first half opportunities.
After just three minutes of play Swansea broke down the left flank and after playing a neat one two with Scotland on the edge of Fulham's area, Gower struck a left-footed strike across Schwarzer's goal and against the base of the keeper's far post. Fulham scrambled the ball clear and it was a lucky early escape for the visitors.
Fulham's most promising play during the early stages came down the right flank with both Nevland and Johnson looking to exploit the space behind the home side's defence but their opportunities were few and far between.
Swansea, to their credit, played some fine football during the first half and Gower was handed his second chance of the game after 25 minutes of play. A fine cross from the right flank found Gower, unmarked, six yards from goal. His close range effort was directed straight at Schwarzer and the keeper tipped the ball round his near post.
Swansea's five man midfield combined quick passing interplay with clear attacking intent and their width allowed them to get behind Fulham's defence on several occassions during the first half. Tate and Dyer went close on the half hour mark as the tie remained on level terms as half time approached.
Five minutes before the break Fulham entered a period of promising play with Erik Nevland heading a long ball upfield into Andy's Johnson's path as the striker raced through on goal. De Vries spinted out of his goal to smother the ball at Johnson's feet on the penalty spot.
Fulham's late first half rally saw Johnson once again looking to expose the space down Swansea's left flank. The striker forced a corner two minutes before the break and from Konchesky's delivery the ball was turned into the net by Swansea captain Garry Monk.
The Whites had earned a crucial lead, albeit by fortuitous circumstances, moments before the break and after one minute of added time Referee Howard Webb blew for the interval.
At the start of the second half the home side dominated and after five minutes of the restart Schwarzer was required to pull off a superb save to deny Gower for a second time. Racing into the area down the left flank Gower delivered a powerful left footedl shot in on goal and Schwarzer managed to tip the ball onto the bar and over with a fingertip save.
Two minutes later Swansea drew level through Jason Scotland. The striker made no mistake with his left footed strike from the edge of the area, delivering an unstoppable shot past Mark Schwarzer into the corner of the net to bring the game level.
Encouraged by a buoyant home crowd, Martinez' side attacked in waves and Fulham manager Roy Hodgson made the first substitution of the game, introducing Clint Dempsey for Olivier Dacourt. Simon Davies moved in alongside Murphy in central midfield with Dempsey taking up his position on the left flank.
Nathan Dyer used his pace to telling effect down both flanks in the second half, breaking beyond Fulham's defence with electrifying speed and Brede Hangeland intevened on more than one occassion to cut out Swansea's supply line.
Roy Hodgson introduced Bobby Zamora to the fray with fifteen minutes remaining. The striker was in the thick of it shortly after his introduction, earning a free-kick down Fulham's left flank after taking what appeared to be a knock to the head. Konchesky's delivery flew towards the near post but Fulham's front pair failed to deliver a finishing touch before de Vries saved.
Five minutes before full time Nathan Dyer smashed a fine chance wide of goal from the left hand side of the area. It was to be the final opportunity of the game as Saturday's draw at the Liberty stadium forced a Fifth Round replay at Craven Cottage in ten days time.
Competition: The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON
Date: Saturday 14 February 2009
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.