Roy Hodgson enjoyed a happy return to Craven Cottage last night as his current team took a well-earned point from the club he steered to the final of the Europa League. It did not look that way when Clint Dempsey scored with a quarter of the match left but Somen Tchoyi levelled for West Bromwich Albion to keep both teams just above the relegation scramble.
Dempsey's goal, the 16th of a productive campaign, had made it easier for Fulham fans to put the irritating loss of Bobby Zamora to neighbours Queen's Park Rangers aside, but the failure to win led to a renewal of discontent and a chorus of boos on the final whistle. Martin Jol, who never seemed to develop a satisfactory working relationship with Zamora, mused: "Had Bobby been here it is a possibility we would have won, but the same with Andy Johnson or Moussa Dembélé who were injured. Clint played there instead and did a job for us." Of Zamora's £4.5m exit Jol added: "It was the best we could do. He wanted to go. It had been lingering for months."
It is 18 months since Hodgson left for that ill-fated stint at Anfield but his imprint remains on this Fulham team. That led to a stalemate for an hour as two of the best-drilled teams in the Premier League cancelled each other out. Albion sat deep, but the front two pressed high enough to make it difficult for the home side to pass their way forward. Fulham's approach was similar so it was no surprise the best chance of the first half came on the break.
After Youssouf Mulumbu had held off a trio of challenges Simon Cox released Peter Odemwingie who made it to the byline. But Marc-Antoine Fortuné shot weakly from his cut-back prompting a chorus of "Are you Bobby in disguise?" from the Hammersmith End in unloving memory of Zamora.
Fulham's best opportunity had come from a mistake, Ben Foster rashly coming out for a Danny Murphy cross only to be beaten by Bryan Ruiz whose header went wide. Another error prompted the breakthrough, Graham Dorrans slicing a clearance skywards. The loose ball came to Ruiz whose pass was neatly turned past Foster by Dempsey.
Hodgson responded by introducing Tchoyi and five minutes later the Cameroonian, played onside by John Arne Riise,finished superbly from James Morrison's pass.
"I was pleased with the performance and thought we were fully in control," said Hodgson. "They scored as the result of a few errors and when we got back to 1-1 I did think justice had been done."
He added, of the home fans' recognition: "It's nice to know the work you did was appreciated."
Substitutes: Fulham - None.West Bromwich Albion - Tchoyi (Cox, 77), Reid (Morrison, 88).
Booked: Fulham Murphy.
Man of the match Morrison.
Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Fulham 55% WBA 45%.
Attempts on target: Fulham 6 WBA 10.
Referee M Halsey (Lancashire). Attendance 25,689.Reuse content