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Match Report


Posted Sat 18 Sep 10 at 17:02 PM

Report: Rovers 1 Fulham 1

Rovers had to settle for a point on a frustrating afternoon against Fulham at Ewood Park.

After a bright start in which Mark Schwarzer was under immense pressure in the Fulham goal, Rovers took the lead on the half hour when Chris Samba headed home Paul Robinson's free-kick for his first of the season.

But the home side never built on that promising first half and Fulham got their rewards for an improved showing at the start of the second when Clint Dempsey nodded the London club back on level terms.

In a match which saw little in the way of goalmouth opportunities, both sides could have grabbed an all-important second goal, but both had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Recovery from injuries sustained in the draw against Manchester City meant that Sam Allardyce was able to name an unchanged starting eleven for this Fulham encounter. As Michel Salgado and Ryan Nelsen overcame thigh and foot injuries respectively.

Rovers started with the confidence left off from last week, immediately putting Fulham under pressure. El-Hadji Diouf forcing Fulham's defensive debutant Carlos Salcido to slice a clearance, then teeing up Niko Kalinić only for him to be fouled on the edge of the box.

The resulting free-kick saw Mark Schwarzer struggle to clear his lines, then from another ball into the box the Australian 'keeper was beaten to the ball by a high leaping Mame Diouf but his header was off target.

That momentum continued with Rovers threatening with their direct play, Schwarzer again struggling to clear under pressure from Mame Diouf, Phil Jones saw his effort blocked, Morten Gamst Pedersen's effort headed off the line by Brede Hangeland, but did Schwarzer handle outside his own area in the thick of the action? The referee waved away claims from Jones and Pedersen.

It was 22 minutes until Fulham had their first effort towards the Rovers goal, Moussa Dembele given time and space for the shot, but he screwed his 20 yard strike wide of Paul Robinson's goal.

Ahead of the half hour Rovers had claims for a penalty turned down when the lively Mame Biram Diouf saw a shot blocked, as he raced towards the rebound he was brought to ground under the challenge from Hangeland, but the Norwegian had just claimed the ball first.

Rovers weren't to be disappointed for too long however when just sixty seconds later they took the lead, albeit in fortunate circumstances.

After Hangeland had been carded for a foul through the back of Mame Diouf, Paul Robinson sent the resulting free-kick long into the area, Mark Schwarzer couldn't get close to the ball and Chris Samba did the rest in rising to nod the ball into the empty net. Replays showed that El-Hadji Diouf had barged Schwarzer to the ground in the build-up, but referee Andrew Taylor and his assistants allowed the goal to stand.

Rovers deserved a goal, no doubt about that, but they were fortunate in its award.

With the deadlock broken, that finally woke Fulham who had been largely anonymous for the majority of the first half. Neat passing along the edge of the area saw the ball eventually find left-back Salcido, he curled a neat shot towards the far corner but Paul Robinson saw it well to dive and tip behind. "Too good for England" chanted the home fans as the half drew to a close.

No changes were made at the break but it was the visitors who came out a different side at the start of the second half.

Whereas in the first half they were content to sit back, suddenly they were very much on the front foot, taking the game to Rovers.

That lively start was rewarded with the equaliser on 51 minutes. A quickly taken free-kick from Danny Murphy caught Rovers napping, the ball quickly switched to the left for Salcido and the Mexican sent over the perfect ball for Clint Dempsey and he rose high to head past Paul Robinson.

That prompted Sam Allardyce to send on Brett Emerton and Benjani for Morten Gamst Pedersen and Niko Kalinić in a bid to regain control of the game as they switched to 4-4-2. A first appearance for Zimbabwean Benjani in a Rovers shirt.

The two combined moments later when Benjani headed down for Emerton, but the Australian could only find his international team-mate in the Fulham goal.

A centre from Emerton saw Schwarzer in the Fulham goal once again struggle with the athleticism of Mame Birma Diouf, the Senegal striker again leapt high forcing the 'keeper to drop the ball not for the first time, but El-Hadji Diouf couldn't pick out a Rovers player with his cut back.

As Rovers pressed at one end they were susceptible to the counter at the other, former Rover Damien Duff firing a ball into the box that evaded everyone on its way past the goals. Whilst Benjani couldn't direct a header goalwards in the final throes, but it was a largely frustrating afternoon for Rovers.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (c), Nelsen, Givet, MB Diouf, Jones, Grella, Pedersen (sub Emerton 61 mins), EH Diouf, Kalinić (sub Benjani 65 mins).

Subs not used: Bunn, Linganzi, Hoilett, Chimbonda.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Kelly, Salcido, Hangeland, Murphy (c) (sub Gera 89 mins), Duff, Hughes, Etuhu, Dempsey (sub Johnson 78 mins), Davies, Dembele.

Subs not used: Etheridge, Pantsil, Baird, Riise, Greening.

Booked: Hangeland (Fulham).

Attendance: 23,759

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