Goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Tom Huddlestone ended Fulham’s unbeaten start to the season in a pulsating match at Craven Cottage.
Diomansy Kamara and Mousa Dembele were selected to lead the line for the Whites for Saturday’s visit of Tottenham to the Cottage. Jonathan Greening replaced the injured Dickson Etuhu in the centre of midfield.
The visitors made a strong start, winning two early corners and seeing Roman Pavlyuchenko drilling a sixth minute shot just wide of Mark Schwarzer’s left hand post. Cordeiro Sandro was next to try his luck but saw his shot from distance sail wide of the mark.
Diomansy Kamara, who had made a promising start to the game, glanced a fine headed opportunity just wide of the post after he was left unmarked for Simon Davies’ corner on 14 minutes. The Senegal international certainly looked up for the game.
There were loud appeals for a penalty on 17 minutes after Mousa Dembele’s cross resulted in Simon Davies and Benoit Assou-Ekotto tussling for contention in the penalty area.
By the 20 minute mark, Fulham had taken some of the sting out of Tottenham’s early attacking play and were applying their own pressure. Aaron Hughes out-jumped Brede Hangeland at the back post to just place his header over Heurelho Gomes’ crossbar following a fine cross from Danny Murphy.
The action continued at a frantic pace as Carlos Salcido cut in from the left wing a let fly with a curling right-footed effort which just faded away from the top corner.
Fulham took the lead on 30 minutes following a fine attacking move. Clint Dempsey took the ball down well in the Spurs penalty area before firing a low pass across the face of the six yard box, leaving Diomansy Kamara with a simple tap in at the far post.
But the Whites’ lead lasted only a matter of seconds before Spurs netted the equaliser. An attempted chip from Rafael Van der Vaart over Mark Schwarzer struck the crossbar and landed kindly for Roman Pavlyuchenko to tap over the line from close range.
Gomes then produced a superb reaction save on 42 minutes to deny a fiercely struck effort form Kamara following an excellent piece of instant control from the Fulham forward.
Mark Schwarzer needed to be alert early in the second-half when Van der Vaart latched on to a dangerous cross six yards out only to see his goal-bound effort saved by the foot of the Fulham keeper.
Danny Murphy was replaced by Stephen Kelly on 51 minutes in a switch that saw Chris Baird move into central midfield and Kelly take up the right-back position. Baird forced an acrobatic save from Gomes on 55 minutes when he rose highest in the Spurs penalty area to direct a header towards goal.
Tottenham looked a more solid unit in the second-half, applying pressure well when not in possession and making it difficult for the Whites to make forward progress. As a result the pace of the game slowed as the Whites looked to find the telling pass. Chris Baird certainly played his part in that, distributing the ball well in the middle of the park.
Tottenham took the lead in somewhat controversial circumstances on 63 minutes. Tom Huddlestone’s low drive from 25 yards beat Mark Schwarzer however the goal was apparently ruled out by the Assistant Referee for offside against William Gallas. However, following a conversation between Referee Dean and his assistant, the initial decision was overruled and the goal was awarded.
Fulham rode out a spell of Tottenham pressure following the goal before the game settled back into a familiar pattern. Mark Hughes replaced Mousa Dembele with Zoltan Gera as he looked to get the Whites back on level terms.
The Fulham equaliser almost came in the 78th minute when Gomes came for a cross, only to touch the ball into the path of Carlos Salcido, whose quickly-hit right footed shot swerved just wide.
Mark Hughes made his final substitution of the day, replacing Jonathan Greening with Eddie Johnson. Unfortunately, Spurs managed to hold out until the final whistle and claim all three points.