Clattenburg on brink but Bobby back with a bang

Fulham 3 Blackburn Rovers 2
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Who'd be a referee? Mark Clattenburg might again be wondering that. Last week he was accused of failing to send off Wayne Rooney after he elbowed a Wigan player. Yesterday, predictably perhaps, decision after decision was howled down by opposing players and fans.

Clattenburg's features at the end – a finale which featured a match-winning penalty in the 89th minute converted by Bobby Zamora and a red card for Gaël Givet after the final whistle – showed a man under extreme pressure. Such pressure, in fact, that Steve Kean, the Blackburn manager, suggested Clattenburg ought to consider some time away from football.

There were several times that Clattenburg was called on to give – or not – big decisions. The man from County Durham refused to give penalties for what looked like trips on Damien Duff and Andrew Johnson and then refused to punish Steven Nzonzi for an apparent foul on Duff in the second half when Nzonzi was the last defender. However, when Clattenburg decided Grant Hanley was grappling too much with Aaron Hughes's shirt at a corner, the subsequent penalty put a lot of salve on any of Fulham's perceived wounds.

Rovers were four points clear of the relegation zone at the start of the day but that gap was halved by Zamora's penalty. However, Kean was an example of calm and reason afterwards. He said: "I spoke to the referee and he said Hanley had his hands around Aaron. As for the red card, Clattenburg said Gaël ran at him in an aggressive manner."

It was a triumphant return for Zamora, who had not played in the Premier League since he broke his ankle against Wolverhampton in September. He almost scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute with a free-kick.

Duff put the home side in front when the game was completely becalmed. The Irishman shot through Martin Olsson's legs and under Paul Robinson's body. An equaliser came about through a huge chunk of luck, when Hanley hit a powder-puff shot that deflected off Brede Hangeland and went past a wrong-footed Mark Schwarzer.

Unfazed, Fulham hit back, Duff shooting in from 20 yards. Blackburn's second equaliser was almost as tidy, Jason Roberts did well to stop the ball going out of play and Steven Hoilett chesting it down and volleying in. And then the fun really began.

Attendance: 25,687

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Duff