Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is under increased pressure after his side could only manage a goalless draw with the Fulham, despite hitting the crossbar twice in the first 15 minutes.
The first real chance of the match fell to Fulham during the first few minutes, with Moussa Dembele showing great skill on the edge of the area to beat two Sunderland defenders before striking straight at Black Cat’s reserve keeper Keiren Westwood.
Minutes later, Stephane Sessegnon showed great ability in the wide role he has been given by Steve Bruce in recent weeks, managing to beat Aaron Hughes to chip a ball to the near post for Kieran Richardson, who directed a clever header onto the angle of the away side’s goal.
The home side began to dominate possession in the midfield and repeatedly looked to threaten the Cottagers’ defense. Jack Colback beat the offside trap after a clever pass by Nicklas Bendtner, but the young midfielder failed to find Stephane Sessegnon at the far post, with Mark Schwarzer gathering his attempted pass.
The home team then hit the crossbar for the second time in the opening 16 minutes. Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamady whipped a ball in to the far post, and Colback closed down Hughes’ attempted clearance. The 22-year-old smashed a shot towards goal but could only find the crossbar.
Although the first half was largely dominated by the Black Cats, Martin Jol’s men began to pile the pressure on in the run up to halftime, with two chances in quick succession minutes before the whistle. The first came from a corner which found Bobby Zamora’s head, but Phil Bardsley managed to make the block.
A second corner moments later saw Dickson Etuhu rise above the Sunderland defense and direct a powerful header towards goal, only for tireless midfielder Lee Cattermole to clear the ball off the line.
The Cottagers continued to pile the pressure on after the restart, and their first chance came after a free kick was awarded on the edge of the home side’s penalty area. The ball was laid off for Chris Baird to fire in, but Westwood was equal to it, making a smart save low to his right.
Bruce’s men showed resilience to hold off the visitors, and eventually managed to fashion some chances of their own, the best of which fell to Sessegnon. After Schwarzer flapped at a corner, the 26-year-old found the ball at his feet, but with his back to goal he could only manage to fire the ball wide.
The game continued to be a tight affair, with both sides creating half-chances. The first fell to substitute Andy Johnson, who managed to find some space on the right side of the penalty area and shot wide across Westwood. The ever-impressive Elmohamady then managed to fire in an early cross and find the head of Bendtner, who directed a tame header goal-ward which Schwarzer gathered with ease.
Fulham had a chance to snatch a win after a Sunderland corner led to a two-on-one counter-attack in favor of the away side. Dembele squared the ball for Clint Dempsey who wastefully fired what was arguably the best chance of the match wide of Westwood’s goal.
In the dying seconds, Sessegnon managed to fashion a shot which took a deflection on its way to goal. Schwarzer got down low to make a fantastic save and keep his side in the match. As the final whistle was blown, the players left the field to a chorus of boos from the home fans.
The result keeps the Black Cats and the Cottagers 15th and 16th respectively in the Premier League table