Assist by Bryan Ruiz
Danny Murphy Card was given for a foul
Assist by James Morrison
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Following last week’s disappointing exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park, Fulham manager Martin Jol made three changes to his starting eleven to face West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.
Philippe Senderos returned to central defence in place of Aaron Hughes, whilst Steve Sidwell came in for Chris Baird in central midfield. There was also a welcome return for Simon Davies in midfield as striker Andrew Johnson was ruled out through injury.
Deadline day signing Pavel Pogrebnyak was unavailable for Wednesday night’s match so Clint Dempsey led the line following Bobby Zamora’s switch to Queens Park Rangers. Jol also made room on his bench for Academy graduate striker Marcello Trotta, following the youngster’s scintillating loan spell at Wycombe Wanderers.
Former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson was handed a warm reception from the home crowd prior to kick-off on what was a bitterly cold night on the banks of the Thames. Fulham made a bright start to proceedings, with Steve Sidwell going close inside two minutes with a blistering 25-yard drive that seared just wide.
Following two hat-tricks in two games at Craven Cottage, Clint Dempsey almost made is seven in three home games moments later, after jinking through Hodgson’s defence with some quick-footed trickery inside the area but was denied at the last.
West Brom made their first foray up field after seven minutes when Morrison tried his luck from distance but Stockdale collected the ball with ease. Three minutes later Clint Dempsey fired the ball past Ben Foster from close range but the linesman’s flag was raised.
There was no shortage of openings and less than two minutes after Dempsey’s effort Odemwingie beat the offside trap to cut behind Kelly through on goal. Fortunately the striker blazed his effort over the bar.
Fulham were certainly the team with the greater attacking intent in the opening period but after 24 minutes Stockdale was required to make a diving save to deny Mulumbu the opening goal of the game.
The midfielder’s darting shot across goal from 12 yards was edged just wide by Fulham’s goalkeeper.
Seconds before the half hour mark, Odwemwingie fed Fortune a square pass on the 18 yard line that offered the striker a clear shot on goal. Again, the Baggies lacked accuracy in front of goal and Fortune’s strike flew high over Stockdale’s crossbar.
Fulham looked to up the ante before the break with Murphy and Sidwell leading the charge from midfield. Unfortunately an accurate delivery or cutting edge in the final third was lacking but Clint Dempsey did force Foster into a diving save with a shot from 18 yards two minutes before the break.
Fulham continued to press before half-time but despite their effort and commitment to break the deadlock the score remained level.
Both teams remained unchanged for the second half and it was Baggies midfielder Morrison who fired in the first shot of the second period, forcing Stockdale into a save at his near post with a strike from 18 yards.
After 50 minutes play Danny Murphy received the first booking of the game for a high tackle in the middle of the pitch. There was no dangerous intent from Murphy as Morrison had dipped his head into a 50/50 challenge.
The game grew scrappy as the hour mark approached with neither teams guilty of giving away possession all too easily. After 57 minutes Fortune was handed another fine opportunity on goal, this time from close range, but the striker’s lack of control saw the chance go begging.
A minute later Ruiz earned himself a sight of goal after bursting through West Brom’s back line but his shot from 12 yards flew straight into Foster’s arms. It was end to end action at the Cottage as a crucial opener seemed inevitable from the evidence of chances created.
After 61 minutes Damien Duff went within a whisker of firing Fulham in front. The Republic of Ireland winger burst down the left flank before cutting inside and sending a shot just inches wide of Foster’s far post.
The pace of the game dipped after the hour mark as West Brom’s two banks of four dropped deeper. Fulham were forced to take the initiative whilst remaining aware of the Baggies on the counter attack.
Fulham’s desire to push forward was richly rewarded after 69 minutes when Clint Dempsey opened the scoring with a right footed shot across goal from 12 yards that nestled into the far corner of Foster’s net.
Dempsey’s strike partner Ruiz set the American up with a perfectly weighted through ball and Dempsey’s rich vein of form continued with his 16th goal of the season to hand Jol’s team a valuable lead.
Ruiz and Dempsey's understanding in attack grew as the minutes passed, with the Costa Rican turning provider for his strike partner once again after 73 miuntes but Dempsey was forced off the ball before a finishing touch could be applied.
Roy Hodgson made the first change of the game, replacing Simon Cox with Somen Tchoyi in midfield and the change had a telling impact. With eight minutes remaining Tchoyi was played through down the right channel and fired a shot across goal that beat Stockdale to draw West Bromwich level with just eight minutes remaining.
During the final stages of the match Fulham were camped in West Brom's half and it required some desperate defending by Hodgson's men to keep the score level. With three minutes remaining Clint Dempsey headed over from six yards out before Hodgson made a second change, replacing Morrison with Steven Reid.
Despite their best efforts Fulham could not find a winner and had to settle for a point and 13th place on Wednesday night. Martin Jol's team are back in action on Saturday when they travel North to challenge Manchester City (KO 17.30).
by Mulumba, allowing the midfielder a free shot on goal. Again, Schwarzer was well positioned to collect with ease.
Kasami almost made amends immediately, stroking the ball past Ben Foster into the back of the net after the keeper had failed to save Dempsey’s fierce drive from 25 yards. Kasami’s joy was short lived as the flag was raised for offside.
Fulham looked to test Foster from distance as the twenty minute mark approached, with both Dembele and Sidwell forcing the keeper into saves. Jol’s team entered a sustained period of possession, needing the full width of the pitch to penetrate past West Brom’s midfield five.
Jol’s team dictated the pace and flow of the game during the first half and dominated possession – but patience was certainly required as West Brom soaked up the pressure and looked to catch Fulham cold on the counter attack.
Mousa Dembele was the next to try his luck from distance, letting fly from 30 yards but his strike whistled over Foster’s bar. For all Fulham’s dominance the home side were seemingly comfortable sitting back, with only Shane Long willing to push beyond the half way line.
Five minutes before the break Fulham moved up a gear and Dempsey went close with a header from six yards that forced Foster into a save. Fulham continued to search for an opener but were left frustrated by a well organised, defensively minded opposition.
There was plenty of good build up work in midfield area during the first 45 but in the final third Fulham lacked a cutting edge to capitalise after spending the majority of the half camped in the home side’s half.
There were no changes for the second half but Roy Hodgson made a tactical change, allowing Odemwingie licence to push further up field alongside Shane Long.
The focus had certainly shifted into Fulham’s half during the second half as West Brom switched to 4-4-2 and Odemwingie’s presence up front almost paid dividends for the home side on the hour mark. The striker beat the offside trap to race through for a one-on-one with Schwarzer. Thankfully Fulham’s keeper pulled off a magnificent save to deny the Baggies.
The home crowd could sense the game shifting their way as Baird and Grygera both picked up bookings for late challenges. However Fulham were prepared to get stuck in and stood firm against a sustained spell of pressure.
12 minutes from time Fulham produced their best chance of the second half when Dempsey was felled 20 yards from goal in a central position. John Arne Riise fired in low direct free-kick through the Baggies wall which Foster could only parry away. Ruiz, first to the ball, fired past the post from four yards. It was agonisingly close for Fulham.
Dempsey went close two minutes later, firing just wide from the edge of the area. Following Dempsey’s effort Roy Hodgson introduced Somen Tchoyi for Jerome Thomas.
As the game entered the final ten minutes Mark Schwarzer required treatment after appearing to strain his back in a fall on the hour mark. The keeper seemed to determined to see the game out despite the evident pain.
With three minutes remaining Martin Jol made his second change of the game, replacing captain Danny Murphy with Dickson Etuhu.
As the Fourth Official indicated four minutes of added time Fulham were dealt a fortunate hand when Chris Brunt’s drive from 20 yards came back off the post. Seconds later Orlando Sa blasted over Foster cross bar from the left hand side of the area. At the death the result could have gone either way but at full time both teams claimed a point.
There will be no respite for Fulham next week with a UEFA Europa League match against Odense BK (away) on Thursday night before returning to Craven Cottage to face Queens Park Rangers on Sunday 2nd October (KO 3pm).
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Date: Wednesday 1 February 2012
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Referee: Mark Halsey
Line-up: Stockdale; Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland, John Arne Riise; Davies, Sidwell, Murphy, Duff; Ruiz, Dempsey
Unused substitutes: Etheridge, Baird, Hughes, Kasami, Gecov, Frei, Trotta
Manager: Martin Jol
Line-up: Foster; Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Shorey; Cox (Tchoyi 77'), Morrison (Reid 89'), Mulumbu, Dorrans; Odemwingie, Fortuné
Unused substitutes: Fülöp, Dawson, Allan, Mantom, Thorne
Manager: Roy Hodgson
|15||West Bromwich Albion||23||26|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||23||21|