Fulham's new owner passed up the chance to watch his team yesterday, for which Martin Jol may be grateful. Managers are always vulnerable when a club changes hands and the Dutchman would not have wanted Shahid Khan to hear chants of 'Jol out' after Fulham threw away the chance to secure their first home win since April.
“It is disappointing,” said Jol, “If we were bottom of league I could understand but we are 12, with four points, like many other teams. It is only a minority, but it is like with women, high expectations can make you unhappy.”
Jol had a face like thunder when Gareth McAuley powered in a 93rd-minute header to score West Bromwich Albion's first goal of the season and avert a growing crisis for their manager, Steve Clarke. The goal rewarded Albion's strong finish but Fulham should have settled the match long before, their sporadically bright football carving out several good opportunities. Only one was taken, Steve Sidwell volleying in a loose ball from close range after Philippe Senderos and McAuley had tussled for a after 23rd-minute Alexander Kacaniklic corner. Three other goals were ruled out for offside with the last, a volley by Hugo Rodallega five minutes from time being a marginal call though as Jol pointed out, Bryan Ruiz should have scored earlier in the move but hit the bar. Fulham's miserable finale was capped when Ruiz fell awkwardly on his ankle and was taken off by stretcher. “It looks serious,” said Jol, “but we have to wait for the scan”
Albion had finished last season scoring five against Manchester United, but that was when Romelu Lukaku led their front line. This season they have found goals elusive. In an attempt to rectify that Clarke spent £13m on deadline day on Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon. Anichebe made his debut yesterday but Sessegnon 's work permit application hot what Clarke called 'a glitch'. He expects it to be resolved. With Shane Long and Matej Vydra injured Clarke was grateful Nicolas Anelka had unretired. The Frenchman's heyday, however, is long gone and he squandered a brace of fine chances.
With Anichebe rolling Brede Hageland but then shooting at Stockdale, it seemed Albion would draw another blank. Then substitutes Scott Sinclair and Saido Beradino – who gave a bright cameo – forced a corner. Chris Brut delivered and McAuley sent the Albion fans into rapture. “It was”, said Clarke with some understatement, “a really important goal for us”.
Referee: Lee Probert.
Man of the match: Kasami
Match rating: 6/10