FULHAM 1 TOWN 1
The Terriers were denied a first win of the 2015/16 Sky Bet Championship season by a 95th minute Cauley Woodrow equaliser at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
A very tame first half from both sides gave away to an improved second from the Terriers and, on the balance of chances, Chris Powell’s side deserved the lead when it came through Nahki Wells’ second of the season in the 63rd minute.
Fulham looked bereft of ideas thereafter, but a hopeful ball played into the area with barely 60 seconds of added time remaining bore fruit for the hosts and condemned Town to a third successive draw.
Long shots from two central midfield players looked the most likely source of a goal in the opening 45 minutes, even though the hosts gained control of possession after the half hour mark.
At one end, Jacob Butterfield – who was making his 50th start for the Club - tested ex-Bolton goalkeeper on two occasions with firmly hit efforts after some dazzling footwork, but on both occasions the custodian was up to task.
At the other, former Blackpool man Jamie O’Hara brought the best from Joe Murphy with a 31st minute effort from 25 yards out that needed pushing around the right hand post.
The other presentable opportunity of the half came in added time, when Jason Davidson’s corner was met by the head of Joel Lynch, who diverted the ball wide of the far post. Had Lynch scored, it would have been only his second goal on the road for the Terriers – and his first came in the same fixture last season.
Otherwise, the first half was littered with stray passes from both sides, who seemed to toil a little in the blazing London sunshine. Chris Powell’s side looked organised in defence, playing 4-2-3-1 with both Hogg and Whitehead in front of the back four, but lacked a cutting edge up front, with wide men Bunn and Scannell – who was back from injury – on the periphery of proceedings.
Fulham’s liveliest player was striker Moussa Dembele, who showed glimpses of the evident ability at times and was competing well in the aerial challenge with Mark Hudson. The other threat came from set pieces, with O’Hara delivering into the penalty area whenever the Cottagers won a free-kick in Town’s half. Giant 6’ 7” centre back Dan Burn was an obvious target.
Things improved from the Terriers attack-wise in the second half as early as five minutes in. Butterfield tried to thread a ball between Burn and Voser for Scannell and the powerful winger managed to get hold of the ball, only to place his side-footed shot too close to Lonergan. It was a big chance; the best of the game to date.
Then, at the other end, Joe Murphy was in the right place at the right time to block a point blank header from Dembele after O’Hara played another wide free-kick into the danger zone. In the context of the game, it was a vital stop.
That was because the Terriers broke the deadlock just two minutes later, with Nahki Wells netting his second of the season. The move owed a lot to the previous quiet Bunn, who drifted infield to pick up the ball and then drove at the heart of the Fulham defence. Having drawn a couple of defenders to the ball, he slipped a clever pass into the Bermudian’s path – and he fired gleefully past the onrushing goalkeeper.
Town could have made it two with 20 minutes left through the unlikely source of a Scannell header, but Lonergan pushed his effort around his near post after the winger beat left back Voser to Bunn’s deep cross.
Two minutes later Hudson beat the giant Burn to a Jason Davidson corner, but header over the crossbar under immense pressure from the defender.
Kit Symons put another forward on and instructed his side to deliver the ball into the box at every opportunity as the game progressed, but Town defended bravely and even forced a chance on the break when Bunn forced the goalkeeper into a save.
The only chance that Fulham had fell in the 95th minute of the game – and they scored it. Big Dan Burn had been thrown forward in hope in the closing stages and he managed to get his head to a knock-down that fell perfectly for substitute Cauley Woodrow to volley home at close range.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Joe Murphy; Jason Davidson, Joel Lynch, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Dean Whitehead, Jonathan Hogg; Harry Bunn, Jacob Butterfield (Kyle Dempsey, 80), Sean Scannell (Ishmael Miller, 76); Nahki Wells (Martin Cranie, 90)
Lloyd Allinson, James Vaughan, Murray Wallace, Joe Lolley
Mark Hudson (77)