Saturday, 22 February 2014

West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Fulham FC match report Saturday 22nd February 2014

Matej Vydra rescued a vital point for West Brom to deny Felix Magath a victory in his first game in charge of Fulham.

The Czech striker fired in from six yards in the 86th minute to cancel out a first half strike by Ashkan Dejagah which looked to have taken all three points for the Cottagers and their new German boss.

Vydra’s shot slipped through the arms of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and trickled agonisingly just over the goal line prompting the introduction of the Goal Decision System for the first time at The Hawthorns.

The point for both teams leaves Fulham still at the foot of the Barclays Premier League and West Brom hovering just above the relegation zone in 16th position.

Fulham seized the early initiative in what was billed as an important six-pointer and almost went ahead in the first two minutes when recent signing Johnny Heitinga headed over when it seemed easier to score. Lewis Holtby also had a good chance from the right hand side of the penalty area but his curled effort went just wide of Ben Foster's left hand post.

The best of the early chances fell to Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell who somehow managed to scoop over from five yards out with the goal  gaping.

West Brom sprang to life and some slick passing between Morgan Amalfitano and Thievy Bifouma sent the young French striker clear just outside the box but he fired straight at Stekelenburg.

 With 27 minutes on the clock Fulham scored a typical counter attacking goal. Former Baggies man Kieran Richardson burst down the left hand side and put in a cross from the byline which was missed by Holtby and fell into the path of Dejagah on the right hand side of the penalty area. He took a touch before firing the ball past two defenders and under Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster's body.

The home team just couldn't get going but on half time manager Pepe Mel brought on Victor Anichebe and Zoltan Gera for Billy Jones and Thievy. Both players made an instant impact and the home team created chance after chance but couldn't convert. James Morrison had arguably the best chance when he was sent through on the right but instead of pulling the trigger he tried to pass to Saido Berahino and the opportunity was lost.

Morrison and West Brom captain Chris Brunt had stinging shots saved by the impressive Stekelenburg and it looked as if the keeper and defensive combination of Brede Hangeland and Heitinga would help Fulham to a rare clean sheet until four minutes from the end when the home team finally got the equaliser. Victor Anichebe burst down the right and crossed the ball back to the penalty spot where Vydra fired home.

After the game Baggies boss Pepe Mel said his team face a tough three months but are determined to make sure they escape the drop.

Fulham manager Felix Magath said he was disappointed his team did not hold out for the win but said he saw enough promising signs in the game to suggest they would escape the relegation zone despite being routed to the bottom of the table.


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