City held at The Cottage
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: 16/04/05 5:05pm
Fulham and Manchester City had to settle for a 1-1 draw in an eventful contest at Craven Cottage.
Claudio Reyna's first half strike was cancelled out by the excellent Luis Boa Morte for Fulham in the second half, as the points were eventually shared in West London.
City boss Stuart Pearce named England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips on the bench after a seven-week spell on the sidelines with a knee injury, though the visitors were unchanged from the starting XI that defeated Liverpool 1-0 last Saturday.
Fulham manager Chris Coleman replaced the suspended Claus Jensen with Mark Pembridge in his side after the Dane was sent off for a handball offence in their defeat at Bolton Wanderers last weekend.
The opening exchanges saw both sides struggle to get a foothold in the match, with the football proving to be scrappy at times and lacking any real fluency.
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The first chance fell to The Cottagers, as Steed Malbranque's fine right foot through ball into the City box found Boa Morte on the left-hand side, but the Portuguese hit-man's low cross to Brian McBride was cut out by the diving David James.
The visitors soon responded, as Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar needed to tip over Antoine Sibierski's right foot curling strike from close range.
The match then fell into an uneventful spell before City sparked the contest by breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes.
Joey Barton's right foot cross from the left found Reyna on the edge of the Fulham box before the American fed in Robbie Fowler.
The former Liverpool and Leeds United striker's chipped cross from the right found a diving Sibierski and his header produced a fine save from van der Sar.
However, the rebound fell to an unmarked Reyna, who finished with his right foot from close range to give City a 1-0 lead.
The Cottagers looked to respond and moments after going behind, they forced a good save from James after Moritz Volz's cross from the right saw Paul Bosvelt's wayward clearance head towards his own goal.
Barton had a fine opening 45 minutes for Pearce's side and he went close to extending their lead after he fended off Pembridge with a run down the left.
The winger then eluded the Welshman and defender Zat Knight, but his right foot strike flashed across the face of van der Sar's goal and wide.
The half ended with the home side looking to draw level, with the American McBride forcing a save from James with his header from Pembridge's cross while Malbranque shot wide with a right foot strike from the edge of the City box.
Knight then failed to find the target with his header from Pembridge's cross from the left before Fulham's best chance of the half fell to Boa Morte in injury time, but his close range, right foot strike beat James and struck the far post before rolling away to safety.
The second half began with Fulham looking to draw level, but Andy Cole squandered an early chance with a wayward right foot strike after Malbranque fed him into the box.
City then missed a glorious chance to extend their lead after Fowler took advantage of a poor backpass to elude Lee Clark and Alain Goma on the edge of the box.
However, with van der Sar at his mercy, Fowler's right foot strike failed to test the Dutchman, as he shot woefully wide.
That miss would be the last bit of action that Fowler provided in the contest, as Wright-Phillips replaced him just after the hour mark for his first appearance since his successful knee operation.
The Cottagers continued to press for that all-important equaliser, but they found the City back-line in resolute mode, with Pembridge wasting a fine opportunity for the West Londoners after he struck a left foot free kick over the City crossbar.
Collins John then came on for Cole midway through the half and he threatened the City goal with a deflected right foot strike that went just wide after Clark headed the ball down to the Dutchman.
However, Fulham's persistence finally paid off with 14 minutes remaining, as Boa Morte restored parity for the home side.
Clark's high cross from the right saw McBride and James challenge for the ball at the far post before the American was able to knock a pass back in front of goal with his right foot.
With James out of position, Boa Morte had the goal at his mercy and he converted his chance with his right foot for 1-1.
The match was well poised to go either way at this stage and some resolute defending saw two Richard Dunne shots blocked after a City corner was driven into the Fulham box while Kiki Musampa woefully missed the target with a right foot strike.
The home side then squandered a chance to win the match themselves, as City struggled to clear a thrown-in into their box.
The ball fell for John and he played in substitute Tomasz Radzinski, but the Canadian's right foot strike flew wide of goal.
In the end, a draw was what both sides had to settle for on an overcast day alongside the Thames.
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|Fulham||Team Name||Manchester City|
|3||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||3|
|5||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||4|
|9||Total Fouls Conceded||19|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|