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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 19 Mar 16 at 16:50 PM

Report: Blues 1 Fulham 1

Blues battled their way to what could be a valuable point come the end of the season with a 1-1 draw against Fulham at St. Andrew’s.

The visitors struck just before half-time through Rohan Ince, before Blues hit back with a 53rd minute equaliser courtesy of captain Michael Morrison.

Blues largely struggled to break through a dogged Fulham side in the first-half, but the second-half was a different story as they fashioned a number of openings.

Gary Rowett elected to go with the same staring XI that had held Wolves to a goalless draw last weekend.

Diego Fabbrini failed to make the matchday squad because of a badly bruised squad, but James Vaughan returned to the substitutes’ bench after recovering from a calf injury.

There was a late change to the Fulham starting line-up with former Blues loanee Dan Burn replacing Fernando Amorebieta after his colleague was injured in the warm-up.

It was a cagey opening from both sides with most of the action largely taking place in the centre of the pitch.

Blues finally started to find their attacking rhythm and Clayton Donaldson and Jonathan Grounds both had efforts blocked by the Fulham defence inside the Cottagers’ area.

It took until the 18th minute for Fulham to trouble the Blues goal after Moussa Dembele got past Jonathan Spector before laying the ball off to Emerson Hyndman just inside the Blues area.

The Fulham man let fly with a fierce effort, but Michael Morrison did excellently to get his body in the way of it.

At the other end of pitch David Cotterill showed good skill to cut along the right by-line before pulling the ball back to Jon Toral at the near post, but the Arsenal loanee scooped his shot wide.

Mid-way through the half Fulham should have taken the lead when former England international Scott Parker cut through the Blues defence before attempting to chip Tomasz Kuszczak from close-range. His effort looped over the Blues keeper, but fortunately for the hosts Jonathan Grounds was there to head the ball off the line

An excellently worked free-kick from Blues saw them go close to breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark.

Cotterill slid the ball into the path of Gleeson on the edge of the box, but his shot flew just a yard wide of Marcus Bettinelli’s upright.

With 38 minutes played the home crowd was stunned into silence when the Cottagers took the lead after hitting Blues on the break

The ball found its way to Tom Cairney who laid it off to Ince on the right of the area and his relatively tame low shot just about squirmed under the body of Kuszczak and across the goal line.

With half-time rapidly approaching Jonathan Spector came desperately close to levelling the scores when he met Cotterill’s free-kick with a diving header, but he was denied by a brilliant save by Fulham keeper Bettinelli.

Half-time: Blues 0 Fulham 1

There was a lively start to the second period of the game with Blues causing problems in the Fulham area from a free-kick and then Ross McCormack going on a mazy run into the Blues box, before the ball was taken off his foot and cleared away by Gleeson.

On 53 minutes Rowett made his first change of the game when he sent on Jacques Maghoma for Maikel Kieftenbeld.

Three minutes later Blues were right back in it courtesy of centre-half Morrison. Cotterill sent in a sweet cross and the Blues captain rose above his marker to nod the ball home.

The game threatened to boil over when several players from both sides were involved in pushing and shoving each, which resulted in yellow cards for Maghoma and Parker.

Madl was then cautioned for a crude challenge on Toral as the midfielder ran on towards the Fulham box.

With three points so crucial for both sides, they both began to up the ante and push on in search of a winner.

Caddis was denied a goal after forcing Bettinelli into a low diving save to his right.

The right-back then flashed a stinging shot across the front of the Fulham keeper.

Caddis then almost turned provider as he burst down the right before pulling the ball back for Davis on the edge of the area, but the midfielder’s shot was crowded out.

Blues should have been in front after 83 minutes when Davis’ shot hit the post before rebounding off the goalkeeper and into the path of Donaldson, who should have done better as he lifted his chance over the bar.

With five minutes of normal time remaining it was all Blues as they sought that elusive second goal, but they were just not able to find it and were forced to settle for the draw.
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