Fulham miss Zamora as they draw with West Brom
Fulham 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
Wednesday 01 February 2012
Fulham began life after Bobby Zamora with a whimper as West Brom secured a point on Roy Hodgson's first return to Craven Cottage.
The 31-year-old striker left for west London rivals QPR yesterday, leaving the home side bereft of attacking ideas.
Makeshift striker Clint Dempsey looked like he would prove Fulham's saviour once again as he tucked home midway through the second period.
However, the Cottagers lacked a cutting edge and West Brom made them pay with eight minutes remaining.
Substitute Somen Tchoyi fired home in front of the visiting support to ensure Hodgson took home a point home after a tough battle with his former club.
Heading into the match, Martin Jol ran with a line-up missing a recognised striker as new signing Pavel Pogrebnyak was not registered in time to feature and Andrew Johnson was left out on the 18-man squad.
Reported Fulham target Peter Odemwingie was recalled to the West Brom starting line-up and was the only change made to the side that faced Stoke in the league 11 days ago.
It was a strong-looking line-up named by Hodgson as he went in search of victory at his old stomping ground.
The match marked the former Fulham manager's first return to Craven Cottage after a highly successful spell that saw the west Londoners reach the 2010 Europa League final.
Hodgson received a standing ovation from the home support as the he made his way to the dugout, although there was no room for sentiment on the field.
Fulham started brightly and, after Steve Sidwell struck wide inside two minutes, Dempsey jinked into the box but could not quite get a shot away.
James Morrison forced David Stockdale into action in a rare Baggies attack and play soon returned to the other end, where Fulham thought they had taken an 11th-minute lead.
An exquisite through ball from Danny Murphy put Dempsey clear to net with relative ease, although the goal was chalked off for offside.
Odemwingie curled wide as the Baggies threatened to counter attack, although it was the hosts that were bossing possession.
While Fulham were looking in control, they lacked conviction and seemed devoid of ideas.
The Cottagers almost went behind when the visitors broke and Stockdale had to scramble across goal to stop a Marc-Antoine Fortune effort trickling in.
Jol deployed Ruiz just off Dempsey in place of Zamora, although they lacked the England international's presence in attack.
Ruiz beat Ben Foster to a looping Murphy ball but headed well wide, before Dempsey tested the West Brom goalkeeper as half-time approached.
Simon Cox saw a shot saved moments into the second period as the Baggies began brightly, penning Fulham back in their own half.
Fortune forced Stockdale to save down low during a 10 minute period of dominance, before Ruiz broke into the box at the other end only to toe-poke straight at Foster.
The effort was soon followed by a John Arne Riise piledriver as play began to swing in Fulham's favour.
The hosts were pressing and hoping to find a gap in West Brom's defence, which they managed to in the 69th minute.
Graham Dorrans' rash clearance gave Fulham possession and Ruiz played a neat pass to Dempsey, who directed the ball past Foster inside the box.
Fulham continued to press after breaking the deadlock but were caught out by West Brom in the 82nd minute.
Tchoyi, having come off the substitute's bench five minutes earlier, latched onto a Morrison pass to fire past Stockdale.
Jol's men continued to press after conceding and Dempsey headed over from a whipped-in Murphy corner as the clock wound down.
Fulham continued to bombard the visitors' back line deep into stoppage time, although were unable to find a winner and were met by boos at full time.
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