Martin Jol breathed a sigh of relief after seeing his Fulham side snatch a late point at home to Everton on Saturday.
The hosts led through Tim Howard’s own goal when Bryan Ruiz’s free-kick went in off the post and the American, but Marouane Fellaini struck twice to put Everton in front.
It looked as though the impressive Toffees were going to secure the points, but substitute Steve Sidwell popped up late on to ensure a draw.
It was perhaps unjust on Everton, who dominated the game for large spells. But having witnessed his side concede late goals against Manchester City, Southampton and Reading this term, Jol was more than happy to see to see fortune favour the Whites.
“Last week was different because in the first half we were the better team and had more chances than Reading,” said Jol. “Everton dominated us almost the same and in home games that is not what I want. We were trying to play forward but Alexander Kačaniklić was almost playing left-back and on the other side, Damien Duff was the same.
“But Everton have got a very good team so the only thing you can do is try to be positive and use your spare man in midfield. We had a spare man in midfield as they almost played 4-2-4. Fellaini was more like a striker than a midfielder today. They have a good, brave style but you can punish them by playing around them. We did that two or three times but that was not enough.
“We are normally a good team but I couldn’t see that in the first half. Although we took the lead through a great strike from Bryan Ruiz, they were physically stronger and that helps as well. We had a problem in closing them down at the back and winning the ball in midfield. We didn’t have enough turnover and that is normally our strength.”
The draw continues Fulham’s recent fine form at the Cottage and Jol continued: “I can’t remember giving away a lead and losing. It is a long time ago now. I was very happy that we got to keep that statistic going. The only thing I can say that is positive is that we never gave up and Sidwell popped up at the far post and scored.
“Ashkan Dejagah looked very good again as well. I was very happy with him. We are working on a good team. But you can see the difference in having a settled team like Everton. We’ve still got the quality to score goals, though.
“Fulham have always had a good home record. We’ve lost one in 14 or 15 which is good. We conceded two goals before the game today which is fantastic. We’ve conceded 12 away from home which is a big difference.”
The result leaves Fulham in seventh with 15 points so far this term, although Jol admits the season could have been even better for the Whites.
“Remember the goal with Manchester City, they were better than us but we could have had a point,” he mused. “Then away against Southampton we should have won. And last week against Reading, we should have won. We were very close to being in the top four.”