Cottagers claw out Blues draw
Ninth draw of season leaves Fulham amongst regulation candidates
By Jamie Casey. Last Updated: 27/11/10 7:32pm
Dempsey grabbed the second-half equaliser.
Draw specialists Fulham came from behind at Craven Cottage to earn a 1-1 draw with Birmingham on Saturday.
The Cottagers racked up their ninth Premier League stalemate of the season, leaving them just above the relegation zone with 15 points.
Yet it could have been worse for Mark Hughes' men as they fell behind on the 20-minute mark when Sebastian Larsson coolly finished after good work from Alexander Hleb.
Fulham enjoyed the lion's share of possession in large periods, but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities and it was no surprise their equaliser came from a set-piece.
A deep corner was knocked across the face of goal by Zoltan Gera and Clint Dempsey nodded in at the back post eight minutes into the second half.
The result means Fulham have only picked up one win from their last 11 league matches and boss Hughes may now come under greater pressure as the club lurk around the drop-zone.
Birmingham, meanwhile, remain without an away win this season and are just two points better off than the Cottagers.
The hosts should have taken the lead in the fourth minute but a goalbound shot by Aaron Hughes was cleared off the line by Keith Fahey.
Fulham were looking to end a run of four previous games without a win and began in much brighter fashion than their opponents.
Birmingham, boosted by last week's victory over leaders Chelsea, were slow to respond to Fulham's opening charge.
In the 11th minute, Dempsey tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area but his shot flashed past the upright.
But Birmingham took the lead against the run of play with their first threatening attack of the game.
A superb burst by Hleb saw him surge into the penalty box and cross for Larsson to control the ball and fire into the far corner.
Fulham made a change in the 23rd minute when John Pantsil replaced Carlos Salcido at right-back.
It was clearly a tactical change with Birmingham beginning to enjoy a lot of freedom on the left flank and Blues' opening goal had stunned the home side and their supporters.
In the 31st minute the hosts carved out an opening when Gera crossed for Diomansy Kamara to try a spectacular overhead kick.
But the Fulham striker did not connect with the ball sufficiently to threaten Ben Foster in the City goal.
It was the catalyst for a spell of pressure from the home side but they were too reliant on the midfield passing of Danny Murphy and their attacks often petered out.
Birmingham continued to press forward and in the 40th minute Fulham defender Chris Baird had to make a last-ditch header to prevent the lurking Larsson from getting another chance at the far post.
Larsson was proving to be a real handful for the home side who were struggling to make an impact on the game.
Fulham's attacking edge had clearly been blunted with the loss of injured trio Andrew Johnson, Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele and they failed to get back on level terms before the break.
Fulham started brightly in the second half but they had little joy in front of goal with Kamara thwarted at the far post in the 50th minute.
But there was an urgency about Fulham's game and for once Birmingham's defence was having to work hard.
The renewed pressure paid off in the 53rd minute when Birmingham failed to clear a corner and Dempsey climbed highest at the far post to equalise with a simple header.
Three minutes later Gera's shot on the turn on the edge of the penalty area was easily saved by Foster.
Fulham were now in the ascendancy and the afternoon worsened for City when they lost Hleb through injury in the 61st minute to be replaced by Nikola Zigic.
City had the chance to reclaim the lead moments later but a far-post header from Roger Johnson was well wide of the target.
In the 69th minute, another header from Dempsey was clutched easily by Foster but Fulham's pressure was mounting.
Fulham escaped another defeat thanks to the woodwork in the 74th minute when a header from Johnson rattled the bar.
Fulham substitute Eddie Johnson then wasted a great chance to win the game for the home side when he burst clear of the City defence.But the Fulham striker's drilled effort was touched into the side netting by the impressive Foster.
|Fulham||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||2|
|11||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||2||3|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||2||2|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||2||0|