This London derby got off to a lively start with both sets of fans helping to create a raucous atmosphere at the Cottage. The visitors’ primary target in attack was clearly the head of Peter Crouch, who was looking to occupy the dangerous positions in front of Fulham’s back line – looking for the flick-ons.
But whilst neither keeper was called into action in the opening 15 minutes, it was Tottenham who were establishing the territorial advantage with lots of early possession in the Fulham half. Fortunately for the Whites, much of Spurs’ possession was limited to long range efforts, such as the free-kick from distance from Niko Kranjcar, which drifted harmlessly wide on 17 minutes.
With stakes high, both sidles were careful of not committing too much forward as the first-half continued with neither Mark Schwarzer or Heurelho Gomes making any stops of note.
A powerful strike from Kranjcar on 28 minutes forced a strong parry from Schwarzer as Spurs managed to connect a rare few passages of play together. A header from Crouch on 30 minutes had Schwarzer troubled but the Fulham keeper was alert enough to push the England striker’s effort wide.
A powerful piece of running from Bobby Zamora on 39 minutes had the Spurs defence on the back foot, with Gomes eventually having to clear the danger with his head for a throw-in.
The second-half got under way with the Whites attacking the Hammersmith End. Roy Hodgson’s men wasted little time in attacking when a cross from Simon Davies was headed back into the path of Zoltan Gera by Bobby Zamora. The Hungarian international forced a splendid save from Gomes with his header.
Dickson Etuhu saw his 49th minute header gratefully held by Gomes after the Whites pressed forward.
Spurs were looking to Gareth Bale for their spark of creativity, and he nearly provided an opportunity for the visitors on 53 minutes when he caused the Fulham defence a headache with a determined run down the left flank.
A spell of pressure for Tottenham ensued which culminated in Michael Dawson firing a powerful volley wide on 57 minutes. The action swung to the other end just a minute later when an inviting volley fell to Damien Duff’s right foot, unfortunately the winger could only swing his effort wide of goal.
With a number of fifty-fifty challenges increasing in the second-half, this encounter started to pick up. Gomes pulled off a fine save on 63 minutes to deny Damien Duff’s effort from the edge of the area.
The action swung from end to end; the Whites used a slightly more direct approach whilst Spurs’ attacked looked to utilise the space afforded to them by Bale and Assou-Ekotto down Fulham’s left wing.
With the time running down the attacks from both sides, which had previously been somewhat limited, were starting to loosen up with more players being forced forward.
David Elm came on for Simon Davies on 72 minutes as Roy Hodgson looked to refresh his attacking line-up. The switch saw Gera move too wide left with Elm taking his place up front.
The Whites managed to wrestle the upper hand from Spurs late on in the second-half when Bobby Zamora was just unable to stretch and get his toe on the end of a dangerous pass into the area.
Harry Redknapp’s introduction of Jermain Defoe with nine minutes remaining was a clear attempt to end the tie on the day. But it did little to swing the play in favour of his side as both teams continued to battle out a tense affair. Bobby Zamora was almost set free down the right wing on 84 minutes but his right-footed shot from the angle flew wide of the post.
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