The first half was as dull as they come - but the tempo increased as the clock ticked by and Holland's first-choice keeper was the hero for the visitors. Gordon Strachan's side racked up 17 corners but UEFA Cup hopefuls Fulham clung on to add another point to their tally. It was an opportunity lost for the south-coast side, who harbour their own European ambitions but failed to beat van der Sar despite a rash of chances. The big shot-stopper was on top form and made superb saves from Brett Ormerod - twice - and Anders Svensson. The Cottagers, with Brian Bride starved of possession up front, were toothless in attack and sorely missed the firepower of Louis Saha.
This match, which did liven up after the break - not that it could have got any worse - was in stark contrast to both teams' previous games. Saints had been unlucky to lose 3-2 at Manchester United, while the Cottagers beat Everton 2-1 in an action-packed encounter. Luis Boa Morte had been on top form in that game but he failed to make a similar impact against his former club. Saints again left star striker James Beattie on the bench and there was precious little action in the first 15 minutes on a glorious, if chilly, afternoon. Kevin Phillips thought he was in with a chance of livening things up but, after racing onto a through-ball, his advance on goal was curtailed by an extremely late linesman's flag. Saints almost broke the tedium with a cracking goal at the midway point of the half. Phillips swung over an arcing cross from the right and Ormerod stretched out his left boot to volley goalwards. However, his shot was matched by a brilliant van der Sar tip-over.
The home side were bossing the match, with Fulham encamped in their own half for long periods. Van der Sar saved Fulham again five minutes before the break when Ian Pearce made a complete hash of a clearance. Svensson nipped in and hammered a shot goalwards - but the big Dutch keeper van der Sar pulled off a great parry. A moment of magic by Ormerod almost broke the deadlock 30 seconds after the interval. The frontman slipped inbetween Pearce and Carlos Bocanegra on the right flank, cut inside and rifled a shot goalwards. Van der Sar flung out one of his long legs to divert the ball past the near post. Rory Delap flicked a shot harmlessly over the top from Phillips' cross as Strachan's side continued to press. Saints went even closer to the opener after 56 minutes. Centre-back Michael Svensson headed a right-wing corner goalwards and Moritz Volz blocked and then cleared as Ormerod was poised to smash home the rebound. Referee Andy D'Urso snubbed Southampton's penalty appeals when Graeme Le Saux's pull-back appeared to hit Pearce's arm. Fulham finally had their first attempt on goal in the 68th minute when, after an excellent Sean Davis pull-back, McBride thumped a 10-yard shot into Danny Higginbotham's midriff. Pahars had a golden chance 17 minutes from time but fired his far-post shot against van der Sar's body. Antti Niemi made his first save with 11 minutes left, diving low to his right to grab Davis' 20-yard effort. The Finnish shot-stopper was also in action to save from McBride as Fulham finally showed some impetus in attack.