Fulham 2 Charlton 2
A thrilling second half display earned Fulham a point but it was honours even after a gripping east-west London derby.
Charlton, by far the better of the two teams in the first half, led twice, but suffered a fearful battering after the break as the Whites stormed back.
Goals from Ivan Cavaleiro and Aleksandar Mitrovic cancelled out the efforts of Conor Gallagher and Macauley Bonne. But sub Bobby Reid came so close to turning the game around completely after coming on at the start of a breathless second half.
Charlton’s industry was hugely impressive throughout. Always tigerish, always looking to break forward in numbers, they showed why they have unexpectedly ruffled feathers this season.
When Jonny Williams forced Marcus Bettinelli to palm a strong left-footer away, there were three Addicks players in the area breaking a neck to join the attack.
Fulham found the hustling and bustling hard to deal with at first and struggled to open up a well-drilled defensive unit. In the first half, the Whites only had Stefan Johansen’s powder-puff effort from distance to register in the on-target column.
It was no surprise when teenager Gallagher swept home from 12 yards on 42 minutes after a cross from the left by Jake Forster-Caskey had been headed back into the danger zone by Chris Solly.
It was the effervescent midfielder’s fourth goal of the campaign.
Charlton fans teased former player Scott Parker with chants of ‘Parker, Parker, what’s the score? As the players trooped off at half-time.
With plenty to chew on at half-time, the Fulham boss decided to make a double substitution, bringing on Reed and Reid – Harrison and Bobby - to try and inject greater presence in midfield.
And Bobby Reid it was who had a hand in the brilliant equaliser, Cavaleiro playing a one-two with the sub before cutting across Naby Sarr and unleashing a perfect left foot shot into the roof of the net.
But, moments later and the Addicks were back in front when Darren Pratley curled in a cross from the left edge of the box and Bonne got in front of Mitrovic to loop a header over the advancing Bettinelli.
Joe Bryan’s cross from deep pinged onto the top of the crossbar, then Mitrovic thudded a left foot shot against the same bar after a cutback from Anthony Knockaert, as the action continued to ramp up.
But the Serb was not to be denied and he scooped the ball into the roof of the net from three yards after Dillon Phillips had saved a close-range header from Tom Cairney – Reid having provided the initial cross.
It was Mitrovic’s eighth of the season and all the more impressive for having come after he had his ankle stamped on by Pratley early in the second half and needed medical attention.
Reid’s cameo was a key feature of the Fulham revival and three times he very nearly scored his first goal for the club – a header and a dipping shot, and a volley from three yards all requiring excellent saves from Phillips. The third in particular showed fine reflexes.
Cairney hooked narrowly wide as the Whites piled on pressure late on and Charlton retreated to hold onto a point. It was a gripping second half and a far better one for Fulham than the first 45.
Fulham: Bettinelli – Sessegnon (Reid h/t), Mawson, Ream, Bryan – Johansen (Onomah 87), Arter (Reed h/t), Cairney – Knockaert, Cavaleiro – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Rodak, Odoi, Le Marchand, Kamara
Charlton: Phillips – Jolly, Lockyer, Pearce, Sarr – Pratley, Gallagher, Williams (Leko 64), Cullen, Forster-Caskey (Field 89) – Bonne (Matthews 90). Subs not used: Amos, Oshilaja, Oztumer, Lapslie.