Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday October 18 2008
The spoils were shared at Craven Cottage this afternoon when both teams played their part in producing an entertaining game.
Often, when it finishes 0-0, pundits suspect it was all much ado about nothing but, in all honesty, this game had everything apart from a goal. It was incident packed and one controversial incident is bound to have a few tongues wagging.
As expected, for this fixture, Roy Hodgson chose to recall Andrew Johnson after his suspension, thereby matching up his starting eleven with our anticipated starting eleven.
On the day the `Johnny Haynes Statue` was finally unveiled, it was Sunderland who started the better of the two teams. Roy Keane`s outfit pushed us back and we had Mark Schwarzer to thank for two early saves, the first from Cisse and the second from Richardson.
When Fulham eventually carved out an opportunity Gera showed what an honest professional he is. Many would have gone down when confronted with the sort of challenge Gordon, in the Sunderland goal, committed and claimed a penalty. But, Gera did the decent thing and, when Ferdinand cleared his effort off the line, must have wondered if honesty is the best policy.
Gera, then produced something of a right howler when he failed to net from close range, it looked as if he wasn`t sure with which foot to slide it in with and simply proceeded in missing the ball altogether after some god approach play by Andrew Johnson.
Sunderland then exerted a bit of pressure with Cisse driving a shot inches past the post before we witnessed a scene we`ll not see for many a year again. Richardson, having an effective game, took a free kick that, via a combination of bad luck and Schwarzers` feet, hit both posts, an incident that was to have the crowd talking about at half time.
Sunderland started the second half much the same as the first, looking the more likely team to score. Whitehead had a long range shot that went close before Hughes prevented the visitors taking the lead when he headed over an effort, to deny Sunderland. Then came the incident that will be talked about for many an hour.
Sunderland had won a free kick and when Richardson, from approximately twenty-five yards, drilled it straight into the net we all believed that we were 1-0 down and I suspect many of us had no complaints. But the referee, Mr Stroud, had other ideas and disallowed the goal awarding a free kick for a Sunderland player backing into the wall.
If there`s one person`s view I`d love to hear it`d be that of Roy Keane, I bet he certainly has a thing or two to say about the incident.
With Sunderland feeling they`d been hard done by, Jimmy Bullard tested their resolve with a free kick from twenty-five yards that produced a fine save from Gordon. At this stage of the game Bullard was helping Fulham get on top and we hoped we`d score the goal that would bring us three points but it wasn`t to be.
Sunderland brought on the ex-Fulham striker David Healy but it was to be Cisse that was to give us all another nervous flutter when he hit the cross bar with some ferocity.
A draw may have stopped the rot of four straight defeats but one point from a possible twelve in the Premier League isn`t what we were hoping for is it?
Date:Saturday October 18 2008
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