Fulham foiled by Westwood

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The Independent Online

After their 11-match winning streak, Fulham's wobble became just a little more unsteady as a reinvigorated Sheffield Wednesday simply refused to be beaten, battling back from 2-1 and then 3-2 behind to claim a richly-deserved share of the spoils at rain-lashed Hillsborough, clawing back a point in stoppage time after playing the last 27 minutes with 10 men.

After their 11-match winning streak, Fulham's wobble became just a little more unsteady as a reinvigorated Sheffield Wednesday simply refused to be beaten, battling back from 2-1 and then 3-2 behind to claim a richly-deserved share of the spoils at rain-lashed Hillsborough, clawing back a point in stoppage time after playing the last 27 minutes with 10 men.

Fulham, held at Wolverhampton Wanderers last week and beaten at home by Preston in midweek, trailed to Gerald Sibon's goal at half-time, overturned the deficit through Louis Saha and Barry Hayles within nine minutes of the restart and hit back again after Owen Morrison had equalised. But their hopes that Andy Melville's goal nine minutes from the end would launch another winning run were dashed when centre-back Ashley Westwood headed a second Wednesday equaliser.

Wednesday, fresh from back-to-back wins over Birmingham and Queen's Park Rangers, seemed in awe of their opponents in the opening phase, allowing them to settle into their organised passing game, but after 22 minutes spent largely in their own half Jewell's side had a glorious chance and should have scored when Efan Ekoku found himself onside with only Maik Taylor to beat.

The former Wimbledon man missed badly, but the opening inspired some self-belief in the hosts. After Ian Hendon had gone close and Ekoku had been foiled by Chris Coleman's last-gasp tackle, they went ahead before half-time courtesy of a splendid strike.

Sibon, who possesses a fierce shot, shaped improbably to try one from 40 yards at a free-kick but instead passed wide to Morrison on the left. Fulham were confused and took their eye off the tall Dutchman, whose next trick was to pop up unmarked to head Morrison's cross past Taylor.

Fulham's response was impressive. Saha scored from the first move of the second half, drifting into the Wednesday box with the freedom Sibon had enjoyed to head home Hayles's cross for his 13th goal of the season.

Hayles then found Wednesday's defenders equally accommodating, bustling past four challenges on a run towards goal from the left flank before stabbing the ball home.

Rattled Wednesday lost their discipline and after a series of rash challenges Alan Quinn, sent off after being shown the yellow card twice in quick succession for fouls on Lee Clark and player-coach John Collins.

Yet they dragged themselves back, Morrison diving in bravely at boot level to head an equaliser on 72 minutes after Westwood had propelled Terry Cooke's right-to-left free-kick back across goal, and must have felt fate was treating them cruelly when Fulham grabbed a third goal.

Wednesday were at fault again, leaving Melville unmarked as substitute Luis Boa Morte drove the ball in from the right. The slightest of touches by the Welshman diverted the strike past Kevin Pressman, who watched in despair as the ball slowed to a snail's pace in the surface water but still crossed the line.

But again Wednesday's spirit was rewarded. In stoppage time, Harkness's free-kick from the left skimmed off the head of Collins to Westwood, whose looping header from 12 yards gave the home side the point they deserved.

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