There was positive news ahead of kick-off with Roy Hodgson welcoming Bobby Zamora back for Tuesday night’s match at White Hart Lane after the striker recovered from a recent shoulder injury.
Zoltan Gera resumed his role alongside Zamora in attack; a partnership that has brought impressive results in recent months. In midfield Bjorn Helge Riise made his first league start for Fulham following a notable performance in last weekend’s FA Cup Fourth Round victory over Accrington Stanley.
Roy Hodgson revised his defensive line-up to face Spurs with Chris Smalling making his second league start of the season in central defence. Aaron Hughes shifted to right-back with Chris Baird highlighting his versatility at left-back.
Ledley King returned to Tottenham’s starting eleven on Tuesday night, captaining Harry Redknapp’s side in front of a crowd of 35,467 at White Hart Lane.
It was a testing start for Fulham as Spurs rained in shots during the opening exchanges. The home side applied pressure down the flanks with Bale and Corluka’s overlapping runs causing particular concern in the first few minutes.
Mark Schwarzer was required within the first minute of play to deny Tom Huddlestone from finding the bottom corner with a fierce drive. Sixty seconds later Peter Crouch went close, heading over the cross bar from close range. However Fulham soon subdued the home side as they settled into the passing game.
Fulham’s first phase of pressure came after 10 minutes of play with Bobby Zamora almost finding a finishing touch from just six yards out. Spurs keeper Gomes managed to smother the ball at the striker’s feet after a positive passage of play in the final third by Hodgson’s side.
Both sides were guilty of losing possession all too easily during the first twenty minutes as the attacking threat dried up at either end. Fulham had certainly settled after the home side’s potent start as their passing game came more and more into play as the game wore on.
After a promising start Fulham were dealt a blow just before the half hour mark when Peter Crouch clipped the ball over Mark Schwarzer from close range. The goal came courtesy of Luka Modric, with the Croatian midfielder stealing the ball off Riise on the left by-line before handing Crouch the opener from barely four yards out.
Following Crouch’s goal the remaining 15 minutes of the half passed without incident but as the break approached both sides went on the offensive. Luka Modric found space in Fulham’s area to deliver a curling right-footed shot that skimmed the roof of Schwarzer’s net.
Whilst Spurs enjoyed the majority of attacking opportunities during the first 45, Hodgson’s side would have been disappointed to have entered the break a goal behind after containing Tottenham effectively after the home side’s early surge.
Fulham made a bright, positive start to the second-half, playing at a higher intensity with some quick one touch passing. However Spurs continued to threaten, particularly from the flanks and five minutes into the second-half Palacios went close, sending a headed effort from Bentley’s cross just wide of Schwarzer’s far post.
Fulham were battling hard to re-establish their position as the hour mark approach and Kagisho Dikgacoi caught the eye in central midfield with some tough tackling and high energy levels.
Just before the hour mark Spurs were awarded a free-kick twenty yards from goal down Fulham’s left flank. David Bentley’s right-footed curling effort caught a deflection and flew into the far corner of the net.
Schwarzer was left with no chance as the ball deviated off its original course to double the home side’s lead.
Following the home side’s second goal of the evening Roy Hodgson made two substitutions in quick succession. First Simon Davies came on for Bjorn Helge Riise down Fulham’s right flank before Diomansy Kamara replaced Zoltan Gera.
Kamara earned Fulham’s next opportunity on 74 minutes, winning a free-kick 25 yards from goal. The set piece was laid off to Chris Baird whose shot blazed harmlessly wide of goal. At the other end Dawson went close a minute later with an angled header which flew just over the cross bar.
After completing almost 80 minutes of action on his return from injury, Zamora was replaced by David Elm. Harry Redknapp followed suit a minute later, replacing Jermain Defoe with Robbie Keane.
The final minutes of the match petered out as Fulham failed to find a way back into the game, resulting in Tottenham taking all three points from Tuesday night’s game. Fulham will now have three full days to prepare for Saturday’s game against Aston Villa at the Cottage.