Lescott 53mins, Petrov 60
Duff 63mins, Demspey 67
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 25 October 2009 17:26
- Posted by Chris Bailey
Football’s law of averages has a habit of catching up with the best and that was City’s fate as they recorded their first home draw since March 2008.
But it could and should have been so different after the Blues managed to lose a two-goal lead to their bogey side.
Given that Fulham had their Europa Cup hearts broken in cruel fashion on Thursday night when they were within seconds of pronouncing ‘arrivederci Roma’, the Londoners could have done without this trip to the Coliseum that is the City of Manchester Stadium.
However, they were fortified by being the only Premier League side to have breached City’s home walls in 2009 – they did it the year before too – and fought gallantly for point.
Even so a successful repeat of their last two raids didn’t seem likely after the Blues went two up after an hour.
Having watched Spurs give up three points, Villa surrender two and top four rivals United and Liverpool knock lumps off one another at Anfield, this was City’s chance to vault into the thick of the title race and at the same time record a seventh straight home win and a hugely impressive 13th in 14 attempts. The disappointment and long faces at the final whistle told their own story.
Despite Fulham’s well-organised two banks of four and their now customary curmudgeon’s attitude to granting the opposition space, they looked well beaten after first Joleon Lescott and then Martin Petrov found a way past Mark Schwarzer.
Hughes welcomed back skipper Kolo Toure to the heart of the back four, leaving Micah Richards to shift to right back in place of the suspended Pablo Zabaleta. There was also a return after a one-game absence for joint top scorer Craig Bellamy which meant a turn on the subs’ bench for Shaun Wright-Phillips. This City squad is a tough school!
Having scored in every game so far this season, the Blues were in no mood to let that record slip from their grasp though it took 53 minutes to prise open the clam like Cottagers defence well marshalled by Norwegian spruce Brent Hangeland who was booked in the opening two minutes but did not let it bother him.
There was more cat and mouse in the opening quarter than present in a regular episode of ‘Tom and Jerry’.
The first real threat on either goal not arriving until the 16th minute when Carlos Tevez’ effort from the edge of the box slithered wide. Suddenly the impetus and tempo that Hughes had called for pre-match was present in the home side’s approach and it took a well timed tackle from Stephen Kelly to stop Emmanuel Adebayor in his long-striding tracks.
The game at last warmed up as a spectacle but Tevez’ glancing header from Petrov’s perfectly delivered corner wound up on the roof of the net rather than in it.
Then with half time approaching and no doubt a wigging from the boss to accompany it, Damien Duff cleared from beneath his own bar from Tevez. Richards then had a header disallowed for a reason known only to referee Friend who was certainly proving no pal of the Blues.
Those who expected City to dominate in the second period hardly had time for their interval pie to digest before Bobby Zamora produced a contender for miss of this, or any other, season.
Having made a smart low save from Dempsey, Shay Given could only watch from the floor as Zamora somehow lifted the rebound over the bar from five yards. What a howler, no wonder he held his head in his hands as Dempsey turned away to start celebrating.
Fulham were still in a state of shock when Schwarzer saved acrobatically from Bridge’s thunderbolt only for the Blues to score from the corner.
Bellamy’s flag kick from the left was won at the far post by Gareth Barry and the ball bobbled around the six-yard box before Adebayor’s goal bound effort was turned over the line by Joleon Lescott.
Having breached the damn there was almost bound to be a second and it came seven minutes later when Barry and Petrov swapped passes before the later evaded some half-hearted an untypical defending to curl beyond Schwarzer for his second in as many matches.
City celebrations were, however, short lived as Damien Diff scored from the edge of the box to halve the deficit and then Dempsey exposed aerial frailty to nod Fulham level and grab a point.