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Gareth McAuley grabbed a late equaliser at Craven Cottage to cancel out Steve Sidwell's opener as West Bromwich Albion clinched a 1-1 draw at Fulham.
Sidwell's first-half strike put the hosts ahead before Dimitar Berbatov (twice) and Hugo Rodallega had efforts disallowed, while Bryan Ruiz was also denied by the crossbar. McAuley made Fulham pay in dramatic fashion as he ended West Brom's wait for a first Barclays Premier League goal of the season with a last-gasp leveller with a late header.
Former West Brom player Martin Jol made three changes to his Fulham side, handing starts to Philippe Senderos, Pajtim Kasami and Kieran Richardson. Aaron Hughes and Darren Bent were both unavailable through injury. With record signing Stephane Sessegnon absent due to work permit complications, Victor Anichebe led the line for West Brom alongside Nicolas Anelka.
Winless and scoreless in their opening three league games, West Brom fell behind after 21 minutes as Sidwell put the hosts ahead. A threatening Alexander Kacaniklic corner saw Senderos challenge for possession before Sidwell struck the ball home past goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
Fulham's confidence visibly lifted after that opening goal, and Steve Clarke's men almost fell further behind after 32 minutes as the home side threatened to double their lead. Promising build-up play led to Sidwell guiding the ball into Dimitar Berbatov's path across the penalty area, and the former Bulgaria forward slotted the ball home with ease from a few yards out. However, the officials ruled the goal out because Berbatov was offside.
Seven minutes into the second half, Berbatov dramatically had another goal ruled out for offside. Cleverly combining with Kasami in the attacking third, the striker found himself through on goal and despite finding the back of the net, the strike was again disallowed. Anichebe, a deadline-day signing from Everton, could have scored moments later but his weak shot was fired directly at Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.
In a bid to find an equaliser, Clarke introduced Scott Sinclair and James Morrison, while Fulham's Fernando Amorebieta made history by coming off the bench to become the first Venezuelan to play in the Barclays Premier League.
A searching ball from Ruiz after 65 minutes almost allowed Berbatov to score Fulham's second, but his spectacular, acrobatic volley soared just over the bar. West Brom then had penalty claims turned down as Anelka went down under pressure from Senderos. Ruiz calmly guided the ball goalwards after 84 minutes but his strike cannoned back off the bar, before substitute Rodallega had Fulham's third “goal” of the afternoon disallowed.
Having upped their attacking intent in the second half, McAuley secured a deserved point for West Brom with a dramatic injury-time headed goal following good play from Morrison.
Fulham manager Martin Jol: “If you soak up pressure in the last 10 or 15 minutes, it’s always possible to concede a goal. If you’ve only scored one goal, you need another one or they smell blood. We were a bit unfortunate not to score a second as then the game would have been over.
“I don’t think we missed anybody. We played better than before. Kasami did very well and we did okay. We looked a bit tired at the end but for a lot of players it was a third game in seven days.
“Ruiz’s injury looked quite serious. We’ll have to scan him and wait and see what the problem is. I think it’s his ankle. Berbatov had a hamstring. I don’t think it’s serious. He gave us a signal that he wanted to be substituted and hopefully it was just in time.”
West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke: "The players know that to win matches we have to score goals.
"The belief of the players to keep chasing the game and get the goal in injury time shows the character that we have in the group.
"Three or four players have only just come in and we have only just started to work with them. There is more to come from us and I felt there were signs we're going in the right direction."
|26 Apr 2014||v Hull (H)|
|01 Feb 2014||v Southampton (H)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Man Utd (H)|
|22 Feb 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|12 Feb 2014||v Liverpool (H)|
|28 Dec 2013||v Hull (A)|