Following last weekend’s victory over Sunderland Roy Hodgson retained the same starting eleven to face Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday.
Aaron Hughes captained Fulham for the Club’s Barclays Premier League encounter against Owen Coyle’s side and Fulham certainly had their work cut out against the Premier League’s new boys on Saturday.
Burnley’s impressive home record of only one defeat in seven league games at Turf Moor included the notable scalps of Manchester United and Everton at the start of the 09/10 campaign.
During the opening exchanges Roy Hodgson’s side looked likely to make that two home defeats when the Whites created two opportunities on goal in the opening three minutes of play.
First Bobby Zamora set Damien Duff through on goal down the right channel. Burnley’s keeper Jensen raced out of goal and Duff attempted to lob the keeper from 16 yards but his effort went agonisingly wide of the near post.
Seconds later Jensen parried the ball around the post to deny Erik Nevland’s snap shot across goal from the right hand side of the six-yard box.
Burnley responded immediately and after four minutes Schwarzer was forced to produce a fine save to deny Blake’s thunderous left footed volley from twenty-five yards.
It was an open, exciting contest at Turf Moor and both sides were reigning in shots on goal at both ends. Duff and Baird went close from distance for Fulham whilst at the other end Eagles tried his luck with a right-footed drive from 25 yards. The score remained on level terms largely thanks to the athleticism of both keepers who produced notable saves for their respective teams during the first ten minutes of play.
Clint Dempsey almost produced a contender for Goal of the Month after 17 minutes. Then American sprinted clear of his marker from the half way line and proceeded to smash a right-footed shot dipping over the cross bar from 35 yard.
After 21 minutes Erik Nevland’s awareness and skill in the final third bamboozled his marker Carlisle into a clumsy challenge 30 yards from goal. The Whites then produced a set piece from the Training Ground, which resulted in Baird latching onto Pantsil’s cross from the right to head goalwards from 12 yards. It was a fine move but Fulham were once again denied by Jensen’s alertness and fine positioning in goal.
Damien Duff was certainly in for a testing afternoon and was on the end of some over exuberant challenges down the right during the first half. However the former Blackburn player kept his cool throughout the contest and looked to punish Burnley with some intelligent deliveries form the right flank.
As half time approached the contest became ever more physical. Greening was booked for a high challenge on Bikey after 34 minutes before Konchesky received a yellow card for a late challenge on Mears. Burnley’s right back had managed to skip past Konchesky to set up Eagles who fired a left footed shot in on goal from close range. Once again Schwarzer was alert to the danger.
Bobby Zamora and Erik Nevland were becoming increasingly frustrated by the heavy treatment they were receiving in the challenge from Burnley’s central defensive pairing of Caldwell and Carlisle before the break as the game remained on level terms.
Fulham got the second half underway but it was the home side that created the first clear-cut opening of the second half when Elliot’s shot from the edge of the area forced Schwarzer into action after 49 minutes.
Burnley were left to rue their missed opportunity 30 seconds later when Bobby Zamora rifled the ball past Jensen from the right hand side of the area to give Fulham the lead.
It was a superb strike by Zamora who capitalised on Baird’s long free-kick delivery from inside Fulham's half. Zamora outpaced his marker and produced a deadly finish into the far coner of the net from 10 yards out.
Following Zamora’s strike Fulham settled into their play and began to dominate possession at Turf Moor. Chances continued to come their way and thanks to Duff’s teasing runs down the right there was a frequent supply chain for Fulham’s forward line.
Dempsey almost doubled Fulham’s lead after 54 minutes when he was left unmarked to head Damien Duff’s in-swinging corner towards the back post. Burnley’s last line of defence cleared seconds later, against the run of play, Burnley pulled the game level thanks to a stunning strike from Elliot.
The midfielder latched onto a deep cross from the left to send a thunderous volley across goal and into roof of the net.
Backed by a boisterous Turf Moor crowd Burnley were reinvigorated by Elliot’s equaliser and looked to gain the upper hand, but Hodgson’s side remained composed throughout the second period.
Fulham continued to look threatening, particularly with Zamora in such outstanding form and Duff causing problems down the right flank. Zamora’s strike partner Nevland missed his final opportunity of the match from the right hand side of the area before Zoltan Gera replaced the Norwegian on 76 minutes.
Hodgson’s substitution saw Dempsey move into attack alongside Zamora with Gera slotting in at left midfield. Gera almost made an immediate impact when he smashed in a left footed drive just wide of goal from 25 yards with ten minutes remaining.
It was end-to-end action during the final stages of the match as both sides went in search of maximum points but the game remained on level terms.
Few sides have taken much joy from trips to Turf Moor this season but Fulham will be disappointed they did not come away with all three points from Saturday’s contest.
Roy Hodgson’s side will now prepare for their final UEFA Europa League group game against Basel on Wednesday night hoping to keep the Club’s European adventure alive with a memorable result in Switzerland.