Poor possession and lack of quality in front of the goal story of the day for Roy Hodgson and Martin Jol, as they share the points following League Cup exploitsWest Brom and Fulham played out an agonising goalless draw at the Hawthorns on Saturday, dictated by poor possession and a lack of killer instinct in front of goal.
Fulham had the slight upperhand in an uneventful first half marred by wasteful possession and very few clear cut opportunities, with both teams coming into the tie off the back of gruelling League cup fixtures, in which they were each defeated after playing 120 minutes of football.
Noticeably tired and lacking ideas, the first effort on goal came in the 3rd minute from Chris Brunt, who headed an effort straight towards Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Despite a half decent start, the Hawthorns’ crowd grew anxiously silent when Fulham began to get a foothold on the game. The visitor’s playmaker Danny Murphy began to find his feet, floating a beautifully dinked pass towards Carlos Orlando Sa, who was free in the area. The Fulham striker’s effort on goal could have been dangerous, if not for a last ditch block from West Brom debutant Gareth McAuley.
This passage of play was quickly followed up by the best effort on goal in the first half. Unleashing a strike from 20 yards, the Baggies’ fans suffered a moment of discomfort as Clint Dempsey’s effort was fumbled by keeper Ben Foster. With the ball loose in a dangerous position, Pajtim Kasami was on hand to place the ball into the back of the net, only to be ruled offside.
The away side were buoyed by their early possession, whilst West Brom were wasteful, with a series of poor passes stopping them from capitalising on the few chances being presented there way.
Isolating lone striker Shane Long, a flurry of desperate long balls from his West Brom teammates were ineffective in reaching their frustrated target man.
All-square | Dembele and Mulumbu clash as Fulham and WBA fight out goalless draw
The second half of play commenced in a similar fashion, as a Dempsey volley deflected off Jonas Olsson and eventually hit the post.
Taking this as a warning sign, Roy Hodgson’s team began to create some chances, pushing Peter Odemwingie into a forward role in order to assist the isolated Long. Odemwingie immediately benefited from this tactical change, as his lively runs, together with a better midfield performance, enabled the home side to finally begin penetrating the Fulham defence.
However, characteristic of the game on a whole, opportunities from both sides were squandered by some very poor finishing. Bryan Ruiz was the key culprit in this instance, with another Foster error providing the Costa Rican with a golden opportunity, only for the former FC Twente man to strike the post.
Odemwingie likewise was guilty of some very poor finishing, hitting one good chance straight at Schwarzer after being put through on goal by his teammate Youssouf Mulumbu. The Nigeria international went on to miss another great chance in the 79th minute, when after beating Fulham defender Chris Baird he blasted a poor shot way over the bar.
As the game drew on West Brom continued to struggle in their attempts to beat the visitor’s offside trap. They did however come close in the 89th minute when the Baggies’ skipper Chris Brunt saw his low shot bounce back off the post.
Four minutes of stoppage time were indicated at the end of 90 minutes and were almost utilised when Dempsey found himself with a sight on goal in the area. However, following the pattern of a game marred by dreadful finishing, his decent positioning was wasted by a very poor finish as the match finished all square.
Commentaries, Stats, Player Ratings and much more,
Visit Goal.com Live Scores!