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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 07 Feb 15 at 17:15 PM

The Report: Fulham 1 Blues 1

A David Cotterill free-kick was enough to secure Blues a point in the capital, but it conceivably could have been all three for Gary Rowett’s side.

Hugo Rodallega’s early goal gave the hosts the perfect start, but Cotterill’s whipped free-kick from the left-hand side drew Blues level quickly. Clayton Donaldson had two good chances to put Blues ahead, as did winger Lloyd Dyer, but they were left rueing missed chances at the final whistle.

Blues made one change from the side which held Norwich at St. Andrew’s last weekend, with Andrew Shinnie making a return at the expense of Demarai Gray, who was on the bench.

Blues were slow out of the blocks and were punished with five minutes on the clock through Rodallega. Lasse Vigen Christensen picked the ball up in space 25 yards from goal and slipped a precise ball in between Paul Robinson and Jonathan Grounds to release the Colombian striker who showed his class to calmly slot past Darren Randolph.

That spurned Blues into life and, three minutes later, they earned a left-wing corner which Cotterill fizzed towards Marcus Bettinelli’s near post. It initially caught the young English goalkeeper by surprise, but he stretched back towards his goal and punched the effort wide.

With 12 minutes played, a short corner on the left-hand side made its way to David Davis and the midfielder curled an effort just inches over the bar. It had taken a slight nick on the way through and from the resultant corner Grounds got up highest but could only steer his header wide.

Blues were well on top at this point and were level two minutes later when Dyer was bundled over on the left flank. Cotterill stepped up and whipped in a deep cross-cum-shot which crept in at Bettinelli’s back post.

A minute later, Dyer nodded over in the area and with 20 minutes gone Davis again tested Bettinelli, who did well to hold the midfielder’s vicious strike from the edge of the area.

Fulham had a chance of their own with 25 minutes gone when McCormack got a run on Grounds to rise highest in the box, but he could only head at Randolph.

Birthday boy Donaldson, who turned 31 today, was given a present by Stephen Gleeson after 32 minutes when the Irishman drilled a ball 30 yards towards him; Donaldson’s chest control was exemplary to get him in behind Hutchinson, but with the hard work done he steered an effort wide when it seemed easier to score.

Eight minutes before the interval, Cotterill should have had his second goal. Dyer raced in behind Ashley Richards on the left to drill a ball across goal, but the Welshman prodded his effort which allowed Bettinelli to palm it away.

By this point it was wave after wave of Blues attacks and, on the stroke of half-time, Cotterill whipped in a deep cross from the left-hand side which picked out an unmarked Donaldson - but he spurned another good chance, nodding wide from 12 yards out.

Blues seemed desperate to go in to the interval ahead and had one more chance when a sumptuous backheel by Shinnie slipped Dyer in down the left – but the loanee fizzed an effort at goal which Bettinelli palmed wide as the whistle blew on a pulsating first 45 minutes.

That same impetus was with the visitors when the second half commenced, but it was Rodallega who would have the first effort of the half, stinging the fingertips of Randolph at his near post with 10 minutes of the second period played.

Blues would not wait long for a chance though and, again, could have been ahead a minute before the hour mark as Dyer stood up a ball from the left touchline – Cotterill was rushing in at the back post and connected with a sidefoot volley, but Nikolay Bodurov was on hand to block the winger’s effort.

The hosts eventually began to impress and shot wide through Alexander Kacaniklic and Seko Fofana as the game became stretched.

It was not until the 80th minute that Blues truly threatened again. Paul Robinson latched onto a Grounds header in the box, but Bodurov was there again to deny the centre-half. The loose ball was played back across the box by Gray, who replaced Shinnie on 73 minutes, and Robinson rushed in at the back post, but found the angle too narrow to score with a stooping header.

Fulham could have won it right at the death when, after a spell of good pressure, Rodallega reacted quickly to bicycle kick a loose ball towards goal, but Randolph was even quicker to get down and tip it round the post to ensure Blues drew their fourth successive league game.

BLUES: Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Grounds; Gleeson, Davis; Cotterill, Shinnie (Gray, 73), Dyer (Reilly, 90); Donaldson (Zigic, 82).
SUBS: Doyle, Thomas, Novak, Hancox.

FULHAM: Bettinelli, Stafylidis, Hutchinson, Bodurov, Kacaniklic, Fofana, Tunnicliffe, Rodallega, Vigen Christensen (Roberts, 77) Richards, McCormack.
SUBS: Kiraly, Woodrow, Dembele, Williams, Burn, Grimmer.

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