Fulham 2v2 Rovers
25th November 2007. 16:00
On a relatively mild Sunday afternoon with the weekend slowly grinding to a halt, Rovers engaged in battle with Lawrie Sanchez`s Fulham.
Would it be fair to say a draw was a good representation of the match. Don`t be silly. For the second successive season we have gone top Craven Cottage and left with less than we deserved.
Ten minutes hadn`t been registered when Rovers were dealt a hefty blow. Already without the rested Roque Santa Cruz, Rovers were forced into an early change when Benni McCarthy limped off with a gash to the knee.
This disrupted Rovers early on and Fulham should have taken advantage. Diomansy Kamara raced clear of the static away defence but was out-witted by Brad Friedel who blocked a tame shot on the edge of the area.
This stirred Rovers a little and although a natural rhythm was immediately forthcoming, it was evident Rovers` physical and technical skills were allowing them o control the pace.
However, the affair remained rather tepid with the away fans only leaping from their seats when Stephen Warnock whipped in a beauty of a cross that was begging to be despatched. Alas, Bentley`s lack of experience in the forward role and Jason Roberts`, who had replaced the injured McCarthy, lack of full fitness meant the cross sailed harmlessly away from goal.
However, as half time approached Rovers rallied and laid siege to the Fulham goal. Some nicely worked moves saw Bentley fluff a cross, Morten Gamst Pedersen denied by a last ditch cross and Roberts thwarted. All that was lacking was the final ball or touches.
Rovers tried to start the second half as they had finished the first but were stunned when Mike Dean seemingly stretched out his arm and the Fulham faithful misinterpreted this as the award of a penalty. In the ensuing furore Dean decided that Ryan Nelsen had felled Kamara and he didn`t want to offend so duly confirmed a penalty.
It was coolly finished by one of the Premiership`s forgotten men, Danny Murphy, with some aplomb.
Rovers were not to be out done though and the retort was swifter than the punishments dished out by the British justice system. Attacks rained in on Anti Niemi`s goal and it wasn`t long before the equaliser.
After a glaring miss from Gamst (words desert me like his ability has left him) Brett Emerton ended a two year goal drought to lash Rovers level.
Once again the build up came from the left and once again the centre was from Warnock. It was cleverly flicked on by Roberts, although he was in an offside position, to Emerton who chested the high ball down cut inside and beat Niemi at his near post.
All square and you`re money would be on Rovers to win. However, the script had been hidden from Northern Ireland, I mean Fulham and they regained the lead through Kamra, who had been a problem for Rovers` defence all afternoon.
A cleverly worked move saw Clint Dempsey ghost in down the right, after Warnock had failed to track him. He squared to an unmarked Kamara who tapped into the empty net.
Rovers had it all to do again and after a few more squandered chances, the worst coming from Bentley, closely followed by another Roberts miss, They pegged back Fulham in the last ten minutes.
Great strength, hold-up play and drive from Roberts saw the Grenadian striker calmly roll a ball across goal for an unmarked Warnock to cap an excellent display with a goal.
Rovers had chances to win the match but couldn`t find the elusive third. Many will be wondering what could have been if R&B were on song!
Another brilliant performance in attack and defence. Needs to eradicate those moments when he switches off as it cost us here.