Premier League - West Brom gain point at Fulham

Wed, 01 Feb 21:53:00 2012

Roy Hodgson had a happy return to Fulham as his West Bromwich Albion side snatched a 1-1 draw, their first Premier League point at Craven Cottage.

Fulham 1 West Brom 1

In an evening of firsts for the Baggies, substitute Somen Tchoyi opened his account for the season as he drilled a sweet low finish past David Stockdale with eight minutes remaining.

Fulham had taken the lead through Clint Dempsey's fine 69th-minute strike - his seventh goal in five matches - and they will feel aggrieved after dominating possession for large swathes of the match.

But the visitors defended stoutly and countered dangerously, and will cite to having had the greater number of attempts on goal as they stayed a point behind the Whites in lower-mid table.

There were chances for both sides in each half as the hosts played a possession-based game while the Baggies looked for the pace of Peter Odemwingie on the break.

Dempsey had a 10th-minute goal ruled out for offside, while Steve Sidwell saw consecutive efforts blocked and fly wide; for West Brom, Odemwingie and – on two occasions – Marc-Antoine Fortune picked the wrong finishes from good positions.

As the half progressed the Whites gradually took charge, with Bryan Ruiz almost heading in when Baggies keeper Ben Foster rashly flew out to punch a long ball, while Sidwell inexplicably went for a lofted ball over Dempsey’s head after he was played in by a one-two with Ruiz.

It was more of the same in the second half as Fulham pressed and pressed, a lively Damien Duff almost finding Dempsey unmarked, while the similarly involved Ruiz toe-poked wide after setting himself up with a fine solo run.

That sparked West Brom into action though as they started trading blows with their hosts, with the match entering an end-to-end phase around the hour mark: Odemwingie had a couple of opportunities for the Baggies, while Dempsey and Duff were denied at the other end.

Fulham finally broke the deadlock, and did so in style – Sidwell met a wild Nicky Shorey clearance with a clever little header to Ruiz, who swivelled expertly and played a deft through-ball into Dempsey, who stayed onside and finished low with aplomb.

But, as has so often happened under Martin Jol, Fulham seemed to retreat into their shells late on as West Brom became increasingly ascendant while the hosts sat deeper and deeper.

The introduction of Tchoyi for a fading Simon Cox proved to be a masterstroke too – showing pace and guile from his entry, his clever off-the-ball run left Philippe Senderos for dead and Brede Hangeland floundering as he latched on to James Morrison’s cute pass and drilled a wicked low finish across David Stockdale and inside the far post.

That prompted Fulham to awaken and they had late chances to win it: Jonas Olsson, aggressive as ever as he caught Dempsey with a stray elbow, made some telling blocks while Dempsey headed a corner over when found unmarked at the far post.

It was actually a bad miss from the in-form American and, after a last-gasp Fulham free-kick was blasted into the wall by John-Arne Riise, some boos rang out as the West Londoners were held to a ninth Premier League draw of the season.

Reda Maher on Twitter @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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