Dempsey grabs point to keep Cottagers unbeaten

Blackburn Rovers 1, Fulham 1
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The Independent Football

Clint Dempsey maintained Fulham's unbeaten start to the season with a second half equaliser here which left Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce frustrated at what he saw as two points dropped courtesy of poor refereeing decisions.

The USA international Dempsey struck on 56 minutes with a clinical header past Paul Robinson from Carlos Salcido's cross to restore parity to a contest that never scaled the heights of entertainment.

The visitors will argue that Dempsey's goal, his second of the season, was justice considering the controversial manner in which Blackburn took the lead through Chris Samba's glancing header on 31 minutes.

Mark Schwarzer, who had an uncomfortable game to say the least, claimed he was impeded when trying to deal with Paul Robinson's long free-kick. The Australian goalkeeper appeared to be bundled over by El-Hadji Diouf when coming to punch the ball clear and was then powerless to prevent it hitting Samba on the head and skidding into an open goal.

Blackburn dominated much of the first half but only took a one-goal lead into the interval and that was to be their undoing as 10 minutes after the break Robinson was powerless to prevent Dempsey from equalising and, as the game went on, the visitors looked more likely to snatch a winning goal.

This would have pleased Mark Hughes on his return to Ewood Park, but the Fulham manager will still have been satisfied with a point from this fixture that stretches his side's run to six games unbeaten. Both managers criticised the referee Anthony Taylor, with Allardyce claiming he got three major decisions wrong. He said: "There was a little nudge on Schwarzer and I can't remember the referee being in a great position. We have got away with that perhaps, but we were exposing Schwarzer's problems before that. He handled outside the box and should have been sent off.

"The referee made both sets of fans, players and managers angry. He made a simple game tough for himself and only has himself to blame."

Hughes added: "It was a foul [for Rovers' goal], that's the top and bottom of it. The referee hasn't refereed a game like that before, it was only his second game and there was a lot going on. You need an experienced referee in those situations."