Careless Fulham drop points against a second-best West Brom
Fulham 1 West Brom 1
Anthony Knockaert’s delicious chip from the edge of the area was only enough for a point as Fulham threw away two points in a match they dominated.
It was the on-loan Brighton winger’s second goal of the campaign and was celebrated with a knee slide towards the corner flag in front of adoring home fans at the Hammersmith End.
Knockaert later admitted his goal had been a cross which got lucky, dropping inside the far post, but it should still have provided the springboard the Whites needed to claim a third home win of the season.
Knockaerts’s goal came four minutes into the second half and made up for a frustrating first half and when Bobby Reid forced Johnstone into a save, it seemed a second goal was only a matter of time.
Instead, they allowed the Baggies to snatch a draw with a soft goal nine minutes from time, when Marcus Bettinelli flapped at a wickedly inswinging corner, allowing defender Semi Ajayi to nod in from no distance.
The odd Albion breakaways had started to cause some concerns. Former QPR defender Darnell Furlong smashed a shot into the side netting.
Another ex-Ranger, Charlie Austin, should have done better with an attempted volley in the first half which sailed miles over but now he began to look a genuine threat.
And with Albion sensing there might be something on for them, they levelled it on 80 minutes when Ajayi profited from Bettinelli’s mistake.
It had all looked to be following a different script in the first half.
A sweet exchange of passes almost paved the way for the opening goal during that dominant first half for the Whites. Tom Cairney darted onto a pass from Ivan Cavaleiro before laying the ball back for the Portuguese, whose low shot was deflected behind.
The Fulham skipper came even closer not long after, clipping the ball over the keeper but against the top of the crossbar after a slide-rule pass from Harrison Reed gave him a run on goal.
Cairney was in the thick of all the best Fulham moves as the home side monopolised possession, and his curling cross to the near post was nearly flicked in from close range by Reid.
It needed a superb instinctive save from Johnstone to keep it out and the keeper also had to be alert when Knockaert’s snap shot flew low to his right.
Those near-misses would ultimately prove costly.
Fulham: Bettinelli – Sessegnon (Odoi 90), Mawson, Ream, Bryan – Reid (Onomah 85), Reed, Cairney – Knockaert, Mitrovic, Cavaleiro. Subs not used: Rodak, McDonald, Johansen, Le Marchand, Kamara.