Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday October 26 2008
A late equaliser, from Clint Dempsey, gave Fulham a share of the spoils at Fratton Park this evening.
Roy Hodgson chose to go with his trusted starting eleven as Fulham took to the field intent on ending a run of five games without victory.
The fact that Fulham were returning to the very ground they rescued their Premier League future at, last May, gave the occasion a little more poignancy.
Fulham got the game under way and Jimmy Bullard nearly silenced a vociferous home crowd when he fired inches wide in the first minute. Portsmouth responded with an effort from Defoe that went wide.
Nine minutes into the clash Fulham had their first major scare when it looked as if Papa Bouba Diop was going to open the scoring but it hit a player from his own team, close to the line, to give Fulham a lucky escape.
Portsmouth continued to look lively and a great break involving Diarra and Crouch saw a Defoe shot deflected wide. Belhadj was the next to raise alarm bells amongst the Fulham supporters when he marauded through several challenges only for Schawzer to make a smart save from the resulting shot.
As half time approached Andrew Johnson thought he`d got that all important first goal for his new club only to be deprived by the offside flag. It was to be the last significant action of the first half, 0-0 and still all to play for.
The second half started with Portsmouth clearing a Jimmy Bullard free kick before going on the offensive themselves. Defoe went on a teasing run before sending a shot wide and the same player then forced another save out of Schwarzer.
The pressure was to pay off for the home side as they were son to take the lead. The opening gaol of the game came from Peter Crouch who picked up a pass from Defoe to slot home.
Fulham were struggling to contain Portsmouth and Defoe shot wide after good approach play from Traore. Fulham started to further ride their luck when Belhadj`s shot hit the post.
With Portsmouth in control, Roy Hodgson made a change replacing Zoltan Gera with Clint Dempsey. But, it was in defence that we were struggling with Defoe`s pace and silky skills causing havoc. With time running out it was getting hard to see where a Fulham goal would come from.
But there was hope. Bullard and Zamora combined to finally put some pressure on David James. Sensing that tine was running out, Hodgson threw on Erik Nevland for John Pantsil.
Johnson then saw a certain goal denied him when Distin foiled him but just as all appeared to be lost Fulham scored. The goal came after Nevland crossed for Dempsey to score from an unmarked position.
With four minutes of stoppage time to play, Fulham lived dangerously. Mvuemba had a shot blocked before Krancjar shot woefully wide when well placed.
The honours were shared and, to be honest, Fulham got a point they didn`t look like getting for much of the game. Not that they're complaining!
Date:Sunday October 26 2008
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