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West Bromwich Albion
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February 22, 2014
• The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 25782
West Bromwich Albion
M. Vydra 86'
A. Dejagah 28'
That wraps up our live text coverage of another wonderfully entertaining Premier League clash. My name's Ben Cullimore and it's been a pleasure describing the action to you. Have a great rest of the weekend!
As for West Brom, they remain dangerously close to the relegation zone, and the point gained today moves them just one clear of 18th-place Sunderland. It's going to be a difficult end to the season for Pepe Mel's men, who remain in the thick of a ruthless battle to avoid relegation for yet another week.
A point isn't the end of the world for Fulham, but Magath's men will be bitterly disappointed after staying a goal ahead for so long and defending with such grit and determination. Their quest for much-needed Premier League victories continues, and they now face a difficult task at home to West London rivals Chelsea next weekend.
Mike Dean blows his whistle for the final time and brings the game to an end. It really was a game of two halves, one that West Brom could have gone on to win if they started their frantic attacking earlier on. Fulham dominated the first half and left the pitch at half time with a deserved 1-0 lead, but West Brom came out hungry and determined and spent the remaining 45 minutes throwing everything that they had at Stekelenburg's goalmouth. The Dutchman stood firm and was the star of the show for the Londoners for so long, but was finally beaten after an unfortunate mistake with just four minutes left to play.
FULL-TIME: WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1-1 FULHAM
90' + 2'
Fulham's players look dead on their feet after having to defend so resolutely for the vast majority of the second half. The pace has calmed down slightly, but West Brom still look determined to grab all three points with a last-minute goal.
90' + 1'
Yellow Card Jonas Olsson
There will be four minutes of stoppage time.
Riether spends too much time on the ball and is disposed just inside his own half. Anichibe runs forward and wins a corner for the hosts, which ends up with Brunt who fires in a great low shot towards goal, but Stekelenburg pulls off yet another fine diving save.
That goal has given West Brom so much confidence. They continue to push forward looking for a winning goal but Fulham have put as many bodies behind the ball as possible to defend the draw.
Assist Victor Anichebe
Goal Matěj Vydra
GOAL! Stekelenburg has finally been beaten and West Brom have the equaliser that they've been fighting for tooth and nail. Anichebe sets up Vydra who sends a low shot towards Stekelenburg. The Dutch goalkeeper fumbles it and the ball rolls just over the line. The Fulham players dismiss West Brom's cries of delight but referee Mike Dean use the wonderful goal-line technology system to confirm that the ball did indeed cross the line. 1-1!
Yellow Card Scott Parker
West Brom have pushed as many men forward as possible. They embark on another counter-attack after Fulham lose the ball deep into the hosts' half, but the visitors' defenders stay strong once again. They're getting closer...
Morrison finds himself with the ball at his feet just inside the Fulham penalty area, but his shot is deflected out for a corner. The resulting set-piece fails to cause any trouble and ends up back in Stekelenburg's safe hands.
You can really sense West Brom's desperation right now. They continue to push forward but are relying on crosses into the box that they are failing to turn into serious chances. They'll have to do something different if they want to avoid defeat.
Fulham look tired, which has resulted in a plethora of mistakes. Parker gives the ball away in the centre of the field, which allows Gera to push forward down the right wing. He tries to fire in a cross but Burn, again, has to send the ball out for a corner. After a few nervy moments for the Fulham defence, the ball finds its way into the hands of Stekelenburg and they are able to breath again.
Anichebe almost gets his head on another good Amalfitano cross in the centre of the Fulham penalty area, but Hangeland rises high to head the ball clear of danger.
Fulham receive two free kicks in quick succession but they fail to pierce the heart of the West Brom defence. The second results in a quick West Brom counter attack, but Heitinga - as always - cuts out Vydra just as the danger is looming for the visitors.
Yellow Card Gareth McAuley
Anichebe and Berahino exchanged words of anger after yet another West Brom attack breaks down. The hosts are pushing as hard as they possibly can for an equaliser but they're continually letting themselves down at the final moment.
West Brom push forward once again and Burn is involved for the second time in as many minutes. This time he concedes a free-kick on the right flank, but it fails to trouble the Fulham defence who are able to clear the ball up the pitch without too much trouble.
Yellow Card Sascha Riether
Burn replaces Richardson and is immediately required to head the ball out for a corner. The set-piece is whipped in and finds McAuley's head in the centre of the box, but the connection isn't as clean as he would have liked and his effort goes wide of the post.
West Brom are pushing forward with real purpose. Brunt fires in from 25 yards out but it richochets off a clump of Fulham defenders in front of him. The hosts are looking dangerous, but the visitor's defence remain as strong as ever.
Berahino is the latest Baggies player to try and find the back of the net from the edge of the penalty area, but, unlike Morrison, his attempt fails to trouble Stekelenburg, who watches it fizzle wide of his left post.
What a save by Stekelenburg! Morrison finds himself in space on the edge of the Fulham penalty area and fires in a fantastic shot. It takes a slight deflection but Stekelenburg dives down to his right and pulls off a great stop. Like his fellow countryman Heitinga, the Dutch goalkeeper has played wonderfully so far.
Another piece of wonderful defending by Heitinga. He remains an absolute rock in the centre of defence and has been Fulham's saviour on more than one occassion this afternoon.
Fulham's new signing Mitroglou replaces Rodallega and is immediately involved in a counter-attacking movement with Holtby, but the young German's pass forward is just too heavy and it ends up safely in the arms of Foster.
Fantastic defending by Heitinga to deny Anichibe a goal-scoring opportunity. The West Brom attacker finds himself on the end of a cross in the middle of the penalty area, but the Fulham stays tight to his man and makes sure that he blocks the shot and sends the ball out of play.
After a period of West Brom pressure, Fulham have gained the upper hand. Holtby picks up the ball in the centre of the pitch and decides to unleash a low long-range effort on goal but it's easily dealt with by Foster.
Dejagah wins a battle on the by-line with Ridgewell before twisting and turning and sending a dangerous cross into the West Brom penalty area, but Fulham lack the necessary bodies to convert it into a goal-scoring opportunity.
Great strike by Brunt! The Northern Irishman drills a shot towards Stekelenburg from the edge of the box, but the Dutchman, who has had little to deal with so far, pulls off a great save.
Dejagah gives away a free-kick on the left flank after fouling Brunt, but Hangeland jumps high to clear the danger. West Brom continue to push forward and win another corner, but Fulham put every available body behind the ball to defend the danger.
We're only seven minutes into the second half, but Magath has already decided to make a change. Riise, who has had a mixed season so far, comes on for Fulham, replacing Amorebieta.
Anichebe wrestles for the ball with Heitinga on the edge of the Fulham box before firing towards the goal, but the Fulham defender puts his body in the way to clear it for a throw-in. West Brom continue their attack with a great cross in by Amalfitano, but Dejagah clears at the back post and sends the ball out for a corner. Fulham deal with the resulting set-piece and launch the ball back into West Brom's half of the pitch.
Riether attempts to set Richardson off on a marauding run down the left flank with a long-range through-ball, but the Englishman mistimes his run and is caught marginally offside.
Fulham start the second half just as they did the first; Dejagah sprints down the right flank and fires in an attempted cross into the West Brom penalty area, but it fails to trouble the Baggies defence. A promising and energetic start by the visitors, which is exactly what Magath would have wanted.
And we're underway once again!
The teams are making their way back onto the pitch ahead of the second half. One change has made by West Brom, with Gera coming on to replace Thievy.
Dejagah's wonderful 28th-minute goal is all that separates West Brom and Fulham as they exit the field after a first half in which the visitors have looked the stronger of the two sides. New Fulham boss Magath will be pleased with what he has seen from his players so far, with Holtby and Dejagah in particular causing a multitude of problems for the West Brom defence. The Baggies have had their moments when attacking but lack the threat that Fulham possess, and they will be well aware that they deserve to be behind at the break after failing to seriously trouble Stekelenburg in the Cottagers' goal-mouth.
HALF-TIME: WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0-1 FULHAM.
45' + 2'
Yellow Card John Heitinga
45' + 1'
Yellow Card Chris Brunt
Brunt picks up the first yellow card of the game after a poor challenge on Dejagah just outside the West Brom box and gives away a free-kick in a great position. Holtby's cross is fumbled by Foster but the West Brom defence somehow manage to clear the ball up the pitch, where Heitinga fouls Brunt and picks up a yellow card of his own.
Jones is down on the ground in the West Brom penalty area clutching his hamstring. After a short consoltation period with the team's physio, he hobbles off the pitch and is replaced by Anichebe. A very attacking-minded choice by Mel, especially as it has occurred early in the game.
What a strike by Rodallega! He picks up the ball with his back to goal after a lofted pass forward from Heitinga, turns and drills a rocket of a shot towards Foster. The West Brom goalkeeper is just about able to punch the ball away and out for a corner, which comes to nothing.
West Brom have responded well after going behind and are looking far more sharper than they did in the opening 28 minutes. Fulham's defence remain strong, however, and aren't allowing the hosts to carve out too many chances.
Morrison tries to set up Amalfitano with a clever pass, but Stekelenburg, so often Fulham's saviour, rushes off the line to collect the ball before the West Brom winger is able to do so himself.
Play stops momentarily after Parker and Brunt clash heads in the middle of the pitch. After a short period of treatment, both are able to continue.
Assist Kieran Richardson
Goal Ashkan Dejagah
GOAL! Fulham are ahead, and deservedly so. Rodallega picks up Richardson on the left hand side of the box, and the Englishman whips in a cross across the West Brom penalty area. Hotlby attempts a shot on goal and scuffs the shot, but Dejagah is lurking behind him and drills it in himself. Great finish by the Iranian! 1-0 to Fulham.
West Brom immediately break away on a swift counter-attack after Fulham lose the ball on the edge of the home side's penalty area. Amalfitano and Thievy play a great one-two before the latter fires from the edge of the Fulham box. Stekelenburg throws his body in front of the effort and the ball richochets off him and away from danger.
What a chance for Fulham! Dejagah, who continues to be fantastic down the right flank, fires in another perfectly-placed cross that finds Sidwell at the far post, but his effort is fired over the crossbar. He holds his head in his hands in disbelief, and it's no wonder why. That was easily Fulham's best chance of the first half so far.
The home fans cry to the referee for a penalty after Thievy seems to be bundled over in the box, but nothing is given and the ball is cleared out for a corner by a nervy-looking Fulham defence. The resulting corner pinballs around in the penalty area before Sidwell wins a free-kick for the visitors.
Another aerial chance for Fulham. Dejagah twists and turns on the right hand side of the box before whipping in a wonderful cross towards Rodallega, who rises high but is beaten at the last minute by McAuley.
Fulham have looked bright during these opening exchanges. West Brom are trying to utilise Berahino as much as possible but the Fulham back-four are holding firm and stopping the youngster from having an influence on the game.
A defensive mistake almost leads to a clear shot on goal for Sidwell on the edge of the box but Olsson makes a last-ditch challenge to deny the Englishman.
Great link-up play between Holtby and Rodallega leads to a long-range shot from the young German, but his effort fails to hit the target. He's looked full of confidence and energy during these opening moments.
Good play by the hosts, who take advantage of some sloppy Fulham play. Berahino finds himself in acres of space with the ball on the left side of the box, but the youngster's low cross fizzes past the entire West Brom front line and goes out for a throw-in on the other side.
Early free-kick for Fulham, after Scott Parker was fouled in the centre of the pitch. Holtby fires in the free-kick towards Heitinga in the box but it's deflected out for a corner. After the initial corner is cleared, Hotlby fires in another cross, which this time finds Heitinga, but the Dutchman's header flies just over the crossbar.
And we're off! Fulham get the game underway, attacking from left to right.
A huge applause roars around The Hawthorns in memory of the former England international Sir Tom Finney, who sadly passed away last week at the age of 91. A great mark of respect for a great man.
Both sides are making their way onto the pitch. This is a must-win game for both of the struggling sides if they are to have any hope of avoiding relegation.
Meanwhile, Pepe Mel has made three changes to the side that snatched a last-minute draw against Chelsea 11 days ago. In defence, Jones and Olsson are chosen ahead of Reid and Dawson, whilst in front of them in midfield, Mulumbu replaces Yacob, who misses out compeltely due to a hamstring injury.
New Fulham boss Felix Magath takes charge of the West London club for the first time today, and the three-time Bundesliga winner has made five changes to the side that lost 3-2 to Liverpool in what would prove to be Rene Meulensteen's final time in the Craven Cottage home dugout. In defence, Amorebieta and Hangeland replace Riise and Burn, who both drop to the bench, whilst in midfield, Kvist and Tunnicliffe make way for Parker and Dejagah. Up front, Magath hands Rodallega his first start since Fulham's disappointing FA Cup defeat at home to Sheffield United earlier in the month.
Fulham substitutes: Stockdale, Riise, Kvist, Kasami, Mitroglou, Burn, Tankovic
Fulham starting line-up: Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland, Heitinga, Amorebieta; Dejagah, Parker, Sidwell, Richardson; Holtby; Rodallega
West Bromwich Albion substitutes: Myhill, Dawson, Anichebe, Dorrans, Sinclair, Vydra, Gera
West Bromwich Albion starting line-up: Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Morrison, Mulumbu, Brunt, Berahino; Thievy.
First, let's have a look at the starting line-ups for the two teams...
Good afternoon and welcome to the live text commentary of today's Premier League clash between West Bromwich Albion and Fulham. My name is Ben Cullimore and I will be guiding you through all of the action from the Hawthorns.
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