Despite creating a number of chances, Fulham had to settle for a point as Tottenham held on to deny Roy Hodgson’s side a deserved Boxing Day victory.
Our North London rivals travelled to Craven Cottage looking to show their Champions League credentials and extend their recent fine form, and even with top goal scorer Jermain Defoe starting on the bench they looked lively going forward.
But so did Fulham, with chances falling for Damien Duff, Zoltan Gera, Danny Murphy and Chris Baird inside the first 10 minutes.
Duff stung the hands of Heurelho Gomes after two minutes, while Gera tested the Brazilian’s reactions with a clever back heel on the turn. Murphy fired at goal minutes later to force a fine save, while Baird headed narrowly wide from Duff’s out-swinging corner.
The Whites were certainly the better of the two sides early on with Roy Hodgson naming the same starting 11 to the one that had beaten reigning Barclays Premier League champions Manchester United here so comfortably seven days previous.
Having soaked the pressure Tottenham pushed forward and when Niko Kranjcar went down under John Pantsil’s challenge on the edge of the box, the Croatian schemer went close with a curling 20-yard free-kick on 20 minutes.
Duff and Bobby Zamora combined to fashion another chance at the other end, this time for Clint Dempsey, but the American’s first time strike flew wide of the Tottenham goal.
The visitors’ defence was certainly being tested, and having kept two successive clean sheets a third looked unlikely –the last time they had achieved three was at the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
Just over the half hour point, Dempsey went closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock with his swerving 25-yard free-kick cannoning off the Tottenham crossbar. Fulham fans sensed a goal.
And with Zamora and Gera again, working well in tandem they certainly had food for thought.
Clearly relishing playing off Zamora in the hole, Gera impressed with his willingness to get on the ball and bring others in to play, while Zamora held the ball with unshakeable commitment.
Kranjcar’s hopeful shot from distance was all that Spurs offered as the teams approached half time, although Aaron Hughes did have to back one outstanding intervention to stop a Robbie Keane pull back.
The second half opened with Jermaine Jenas curling narrowly wide, with both teams doing their best to maintain the early rhythm.
A dogged 15 minutes ensued with Fulham having to replace the free-flowing play of the first half with grit and tenacity.
And it was from one such passage of play that almost saw Zamora open the scoring, forcing a fine sprawling stop from Gomes following some persistent play from John Pantsil and Duff whose cross was met with a clever knock-down.
Zamora then turned provider minutes later rolling the ball for Dempsey to shoot at goal, before meeting another cross in to the box and forcing another super save from Gomes.
With 20 minutes remaining, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp introduced 14-goal hit man Defoe, and within moments the England striker almost had a 15th, holding off Hughes and firing over from an angle.
Eleven minutes later the visitors went close again, with a Peter Crouch header forcing Mark Schwarzer into his first real moment of worry, the Australian ‘keeper did well to put Jenas off the rebound.
A more energetic phase of play followed as both teams looked to make a mark on the closing stages with Zamora leading the Whites’ front line with customary poise and presence.
Another well-worked move saw Zamora slip the ball through to Duff and when his teasing pass bounced across the face of the Tottenham goal mouth Fulham fans thought they had their goal with Dempsey going agonisingly close at the back post.
With two minutes of injury time announced the Fulham faithful urged their team forward but with time running out, and the visiting defence holding firm the Whites had to settle for a share of the points.
It might have been a case of two points lost rather than a point gained, but Hodgson’s side head into Monday’s SW6 derby at Stamford Bridge on the back of eight games unbeaten and with only one defeat in the league since September.