Quality play by Fulham but no cutting edge as they draw 0-0 with Southampton at the Cottage
By Paul Lagan at Craven Cottage
Fulham 0 Southampton 0
A point is better than a defeat and Fulham can take solace from a determined and energetic performance that just lacked the cutting edge in front of goal.
The 0-0 scoreline against an equally positive Southampton suggest a dour encounter but this was nothing like that.
Both sides showed high technical skill, the odd pass going astray inevitably let to a counter-attacking outlook and The Saints can count themselves a tad unlucky not to have had a goal or two.
Twice VAR intervened to deny the visitors - a tight penalty and a disallowed Shane Long strike for offside in the build-up speed the west Londoners blushes, while substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic almost snatched a late winner for the home side but a point was just about deserved.
Ademola Lookman had the first chance on goal, on eight minutes, but his left-footer from just inside the Saints penalty area, took a slight deflection, which also took the pace off the box and Alex McCarthy snaffled the ball to his midriff.
All the early pressure came from the home side.
A brilliant break by Fulham, inspired by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on 25 minutes set up Andre Anguissa, but the striker fluffed his lines and air-shot the ball from close-range allowing it to be cleared.
The woodwork came to Fulham's’ aid on 27 minutes when James Ward-Prowse’s brilliant free kick crashed against the angle of right post and crossbar before being cleared by Bobby De Cordova Reid.
De Cordova Reid was the first player to enter Darren England’s little book on 39 minutes for a foul.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
The second half reflected much of the first, both sides high on endeavour but lacking in any kind of cutting edge.
A quick break by the Whites on 55 minutes almost reaped dividends nut a header from Ivan Cavaleiro lacked direction and zipped over McCarthy’s goal.
A blistering long range half-volley by Shane Long forced Alphonse Areola into a finger-tip save to redirected the goal-bound effort over his crossbar on 68 minutes.
Southampton had a shout for a penalty denied when Ryan Bertrand volley appeared to be handled by Ola Aina. VAR intervened and after a needless minute’s wait, play on was ordered.
Long thought he had opened the score for the visitors with 15 minutes left on the clock, but the striker, who produced a wonderful, dipping left-footer over McCarthy, to plant the ball deep into the inside of the net was inches offside.
Decordova Reid was replaced by Aleksandar Mitrovic for the final eight minutes.
But a minute later and the visitors struck when Theo Walcott was on the spot to poke home from close range.
VAR intervened again and ruled the goal was an offside by the crosser of the byline ball Che Adam’s.
Neeskens Kebano replaced Lookman as the clock moved into added time.
Mitrovic almost snatched a winner but his left-footed volley was inched wide of McCarthy’s right post.
Fulham remain third from bottom in the Premier League and their next game is away to Spurs on Wednesday.
Areola, Andersen, De Cordova Reid, Loftus-Cheek, Adarabioyo, Cavaleiro, Lookman, Reed, Anguissa, Robinson, Aina,
Subs: Rodak, Hector, Odoi, Kebano, Mitrovic, Cairney, Ream, Bryan, Kamara
McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bertrand, Stephens, Long, Ward-Prowse, Adams, Armstrong, Diallo, Walcott, Bednarek
Subs: Forster, Djenepo, Obafemi, Valery, Smallbone, Salisu, Tella, Vokins, N’Lundulu
Referee: Darren England