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Fulham 1, Villa 1: Last-second salvation

06 November 2010

Not only does the Norwegian hail from the world's best place to live, but he salvaged a point for Fulham.

A Brede Hangeland header that glanced in off a Villa defender at the death salvaged a point for the Cottagers on what was a fairly disappointing afternoon. Credit to Villa who, despite a dearth of injuries to their first-team strikers, put together a composed performance, dominated the midfield and had a deserved lead through a terrific Mark Albrighton goal in the first half set up by an incisive ball from debutante Barry Bannen, who was excellent.

I thought Mark Hughes had ID’d the issue and was set to bring the healed Dickson Etuhu on for the ever-ineffective Jonathan Greening, but an injury to right back Chris Baird scuttled that plan with 35 minutes left and Hughes’ issues were compounded by Carlos Salcido getting rolled up on in what looked like a strong-but-legal challenge from Luke Young.

Villa had several chances to ice the game, got a letoff when Andrew Johnson’s attempt to walk around Brad Friedel was foiled by the advancing American keeper, and then finally were punished off a cheaply-conceded free kick swung into the box by Danny Murphy and headed home off a Villa chest by Hangeland.

Given Villa’s personnel woes, this was not a good performance by Fulham. Villa defended very well and steered mostly everything inside; Fulham’s few good moments of the match came from getting the ball out wide but more often than not, they ended up clustered and crowded in the middle and couldn’t sustain any real, continuous pressure.

We’ll see what kind of lineup Hughes rolls out for the midweek trip to Chelsea ahead of another tough road game, at Newcastle, next weekend. I’ll take the point, but it probably wasn’t deserved. Fulham have now dropped nine points already in six home matches. The competition at the Cottage has been fairly stiff, but that’s too many, especially given their continued road woes.

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