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Match Report


Posted Sun 11 Sep 11 at 18:08 PM

Report: Fulham 1 Rovers 1

Rovers picked up their first point of the season with a hard fought draw against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Both goals came in the first half, Ruben Rochina stunning the home side with a superb 32nd minute strike, but Bobby Zamora soon levelled with a similar quality strike.

In an even contest, both sides created chances to win it, but the game ended with concern for Rovers forward Junior Hoilett as he was stretchered off in added time.

Steve Kean made four changes from the side that tasted defeat against Everton last time out.

In for his Rovers' debut came Scott Dann at centre half, partnering Chris Samba at the back. Whilst Mauro Formica, Ruben Rochina and David Goodwillie were also given starts.

Jason Roberts and Martin Olsson dropped to the bench, Morten Gamst Pedersen missed out through injury, whilst Brett Emerton played his last match for the club in the game against the Toffees.

In swirling windy conditions, it was the home side who looked the brighter of the two teams at the start, Damien Duff's early foray down the right teeing up Steve Sidwell who fired wide of Paul Robinson's goal.

Rovers responded well, Junior Hoilett tricking his way through the centre to find Ruben Rochina advancing in the area but Mark Schwarzer saved the Spaniard's right-footed shot comfortably as he looked to steer it into the far corner of the goal.

Then following a clever free-kick in which Paul Robinson found Junior Hoilett in space on the left, the centre fell invitingly for David Goodwillie on the overhead kick which he put it inches wide of target.

Scott Dann breathed a sigh of relief on 22 minutes when his slack pass across the area saw Bobby Zamora intercept, as the one-time England man looked to find space to shoot Michel Salgado just did enough to put the striker off. Zamora then handled in the area as he went to ground. The home fans, along with Zamora, wanted a penalty, referee Howard Webb wasn't interested.

It was then Philippe Senderos' turn for the wayward, presenting Steven Nzonzi with possession, the midfielder let fly from distance but the ball flashed wide of goal.

On 32 minutes the deadlock was broken, and in some style. Started by Ruben Rochina who showed good awareness to tackle his Senderos in the centre before setting David Goodwillie away on the right, the cross was intended for Mauro Formica, only it ended up with Junior Hoilett on the left side of the area, he teed up Rochina who took a touch before clipping a delightful left-footed effort that flew into the back of the net off the inside of Mark Schwarzer's crossbar.

After his brilliant brace in the Carling Cup, it was a stunning way to score your first Premier League goal.

The lead, however, lasted just six minutes. Attacking down the right as Fulham often did, the ball was played into the area, Gael Givet couldn't get it under control and Bobby Zamora stole in before steering the ball beyond Paul Robinson and into the far corner of the net. Zamora's strike showing the same accuracy as Rochina's before it as it flew in off the base of the post.

Both sides exchanged chances as the half drew to a close, Junior Hoilett volleyed wide after Schwarzer's punch fell nicely, whilst Clint Dempsey fired over after cutting in from the left.

The start of the second half saw both sides make further changes. Mousa Dembele on for Bryan Ruiz for the home side, whilst Chris Samba didn't reappear for Rovers due to a back injury. Martin Olsson coming on at left back with Gael Givet moving into the centre.

Mauro Formica had the first effort at goal after the turnaround, drilling the ball low at goal as Rovers broke quickly but it was straight at Schwarzer.

But Rovers were then forced into another change as captain David Dunn made way with a tightening of the calf. Radosav Petrovic on as his replacement.

Suddenly it was end to end, Rovers breaking through Formica in which Hoilett couldn't find his way through in the area. At the other end John Arne Riise flashed a ball across the area which Gael Givet diverted just wide of his own goal.

With twenty minutes to go Rovers made their third and final change. This time it was tactical with Jason Lowe coming on for the tiring Ruben Rochina.

As the rain started to pour, the home side poured forward. Paul Robinson denying former Tottenham team-mate Danny Murphy with a smart save after the Fulham captain had burst into the area.

Jason Lowe made a couple of vital blocks, then Gael Givet was again in the right place at the right time to head away a dangerous centre. Scott Dann away importantly as substitute Andy Johnson looked to gain ground in the box.

With Fulham sending men forward they were susceptible on the break, David Goodwillie almost making them pay when he latched onto a Hoilett through ball, but the young Scott fired just wide. The lively Mauro Formica deserving more also.

As the clock ticked over into added time, Clint Dempsey forced a fine save from Paul Robinson. From the resulting corner kick Scott Dann sent the ball clear, with Hoilett and Stephen Kelly tussling for the ball.

Under pressure, Kelly could only head back towards his own goal, giving Junior Hoilett another sniff, the Canadian lept once again beating Schwarzer to the ball with a brave header. The Fulham stopper clattered into Hoilett as Stephen Kelly cleared the loose ball. Howard Webb, after some consideration, awarding Rovers a free-kick.

The Rovers fans behind Schwarzer's goal wanted him off, but Webb only issued a yellow card. Concern however was on Hoilett who hadn't moved.

The stretcher was called for the 20-year-old, and after a considerable break in play, Hoilett was eventually helped off the pitch.

Play resumed with a Rovers free-kick, Martin Olsson's effort deflected off the wall but David Goodwillie just couldn't reach as Schwarzer claimed.

After last season's drama when Fulham were awarded a penalty with almost the last kick of the game, there was a 'heart in mouth' moment when Howard Webb blew for an infringement deep into added time, but to Rovers' relief it was for a Zamora foul on Salgado.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Riise (sub Johnson 80 mins), Sidwell, Hangeland, Ruiz (sub Dembele 46 mins), Murphy (c), Senderos, Duff, Hughes (sub Kelly 20 mins), Dempsey, Zamora.

Subs not used: Etheridge (GK), Kasami, Gecov, Grygera.

ROVERS: Robinson, Salgado, Samba (sub Olsson 46 mins), Dann, Givet, Rochina (sub Lowe 70 mins), Dunn (c) (sub Petrovic 52 mins), Nzonzi, Hoilett, Formica, Goodwillie.

Subs not used: Bunn (GK), Yakubu, Vukcevic, Roberts.

Booked: Murphy, Hangeland, Schwarzer (Fulham), Salgado (Rovers).

Attendance: 24,856

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