Premier League: Fulham 1 Blackburn 1
Fulham were forced to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw at home with Blackburn Rovers after failing to capitalise on a second-half onslaught.
Both goals came in the first half, as Bobby Zamora’s strike cancelled out an effort from Ruben Rochina that means both sides are still searching for their first win of the season.
But the game ended on a sour note as Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett was stretchered off with a head injury after a last-minute clash with Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer.
With both teams sitting in the bottom two places of the Premier League, they were eager for an early goal to calm their nerves, but neither could find that killer pass to open up the opposition defence.
Fulham were the first to have a chance on goal as Damien Duff raced down the right wing, before crossing in search of Steven Sidwell, but the midfielder could only direct his shot wide of Paul Robinson’s left hand post.
On the 10-minute mark, the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead as Hoilett played a through ball towards Rochina, who was in the middle of the box, but instead of passing to the unmarked David Goodwillie on his right hand side, the Spaniard watched his tame shot go into the arms of Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal.
Blackburn did take the lead just after the half-hour mark as Hoilett found the unmarked Rochina outside the box and the former Barcelona youngster fired the ball beyond Schwarzer and into the top corner of the Fulham net.
Five minutes later Fulham were back on level terms as Danny Murphy found Zamora, who beat Gael Givet and stroked the ball with his left foot into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal for the equaliser.
Both sides continued to press forward for the reminder of the half, but they could not find the goal that would have given them the lead going into the half-time break.
Blackburn started the second half in a blaze of glory as Mauro Formica hit a powerful strike from outside the penalty area, only to see Schwarzer deal with it comfortably.
The game continued to race from end to end, but as had been the case during the majority of the first period, neither could find a way past the respective defences, with both Schwarzer and Robinson being relatively untroubled.
Just after the hour mark the home side started to gain a stranglehold on proceedings, with a series of corners rifled in from the left by John Arne Riise, but on each occasion they failed to make Robinson work by getting a shot on target.
Blackburn could have stolen all three points with five minutes to go as they broke on the counter attack, with Hoilett finding Goodwillie, who rushed down the left wing, before cutting inside and rather than looking to play the ball into the middle, he decided to go for the bottom corner, but unfortunately for the striker the ball went wide of Schwarzer’s right hand post.
As the game entered injury-time Fulham could have gone in front as Dempsey got the ball just outside the area, but his long range strike was beaten away by Robinson for a corner to the home side.
A minute later Fulham were lucky not to be down to 10 men as Schwarzer raced out to a long ball and collided with Hoilett on the edge of the area. The Australian keeper was booked, but unfortunately for the Blackburn frontman, he was stretchered from the field with what appeared to be a serious injury.
That was to be the last incident of the game as both sides were forced to settle for a point which means that they remain in the bottom three of the Premier League.