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Cottagers give it away again

last updated Saturday 27th October 2007, 10:28 PM
Simon Davies
Simon Davies

Sunderland 1-1 Fulham:

Kenwyne Jones headed home a late equaliser to end 10-man Sunderland's losing run in the Barclays Premier League with a 1-1 draw.

Dickson Etuhu tackles Fulham's KamaraThe striker claimed his third goal in as many games after Greg Halford had been sent off for a second bookable offence to cancel out Simon Davies' opener - and the Black Cats would have snatched all three points had Antti Niemi not pulled off a fine injury-time save from substitute Anthony Stokes.

However, Fulham left Wearside wondering just how they had managed to surrender their advantage after dominating the opening 45 minutes and passing up a series of chances.

Sunderland were much improved after the break to send a crowd of 39,392 home relatively happy, but manager Roy Keane will not have been happy with the way in which they were out-classed during the opening 45 minutes by a side which has now not won a league game in nine attempts.

The last time Fulham played a Premier League fixture at the Stadium of Light two seasons ago, they left Wearside as the only side during that campaign to do so empty-handed as caretaker manager Kevin Ball claimed a first home win at the final attempt.

But if the stadium rang to cheers that night, it was boos which greeted the latest generation of Black Cats at the break this time around after an insipid 45 minutes during which last season's Coca-Cola Championship winners looked anything but a top-flight side.

Where Jones had tormented West Ham's defence last weekend, he and strike-partner Michael Chopra were given little opportunity to put the visitors under similar pressure.

Indeed, two lunges by the Trinidad and Tobago international in vain attempts to reach driven crosses on a blustery day in the north-east were as close as the home side came to satisfying the requirements of their supporters.

By contrast, Fulham returned to the dressing room at half-time a goal to the good and knowing they perhaps should have been even better off after playing their way through the home defence on several occasions.

Clint Dempsey forced a solid save from Craig Gordon with a fourth-minute header and then put another effort wide on 29 minutes.

However, only David Healy will know how he failed to give Fulham the lead on nine minutes when he ran on to Danny Higginbotham's suicidal pass across goal 20 yards out, but steered his left-foot shot wide of the empty net.

But the deadlock was broken on 32 minutes when, after Diomansy Kamara had been fouled by Dickson Etuhu, Davies stepped up to drill a wind-assisted free-kick past Gordon.

It was scarcely more than his side deserved, and the Sunderland players left the field knowing there would be few punches pulled in the dressing room.

Keane's salvo appeared to do the trick as the home side emerged in determined fashion and made more of an impact in the opening three minutes of the second half than they had done in the entire first.

Jones belatedly found his feet and forced an important block from Danny Murphy after cutting inside from the left, and then curled another effort wide before Aaron Hughes had to throw himself into the path of a Grant Leadbitter shot.

For the first time, Fulham were under pressure and Davies and Dejan Stefanovic went into the book in quick succession for fouls on Ross Wallace and Jones respectively.

From the later free-kick, Niemi only just got to Wallace's cross before the men in red and white with the fightback starting to take shape.

Match Stats Sunderland Fulham
Goals 1 1
Possession 44% 56%
Goal attempts 18 11
On Target 6 3
Corners 9 1
Off-sides 3 1
Saves 2 3
Fouls 13 16
Yellows 1 4
Reds 1 0
source: Soccernet

However, the visitors would have extended their lead on the hour had Dempsey managed to keep his shot down after Davies' free-kick had been diverted back across the penalty area.

Keane moved to increase the pressure a minute later when he replaced Etuhu and Chopra with Stokes and Daryl Murphy, but his plans were torn apart within six minutes when Halford was sent off for a second bookable offence.

In a frantic period of play, Diomansy Kamara saw a goal ruled out for a foul on Nyron Nosworthy, but it was then that Sunderland's big chance arrived.

Leadbitter slipped in behind the Fulham defence to run on to Jones' flick-on, but although Niemi hesitated initially, he recovered to make a fine save.

The equaliser finally arrived with four minutes remaining when Jones climbed to power home a header from Leadbitter's cross, and the Black Cats might have completed a remarkable comeback deep into injury time when Stokes got in but saw Niemi block with his legs.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane:
"In the first half we were disappointing and our passing wasn't up to scratch.

"But I thought we showed great character and dominated the second half, particularly after going down to 10, and were unfortunate not to win.

"It shows the type of players we have and I thought our fans were different class too, they stayed behind them."

Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez:
"We dominated from the first minute to the 85th and in terms of play there was only one team in it.

"You wouldn't believe they were the home team but we didn't defend a ball into the box and the big lad got on the end of it.

"We haven't killed teams with a second goal and it is another Achilles heel for us of conceding soft goals.

Sunderland: Gordon, Halford, Nosworthy, Higginbotham, Collins, Leadbitter, Etuhu (Stokes 61), Miller, Wallace (Harte 71), Jones, Chopra (Murphy 61).
Subs Not Used: Ward, Connolly.

Sent Off: Halford (67).

Booked: Halford.

Goals: Jones 86.

Fulham: Niemi, Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Davies, Davis, Murphy, Dempsey, Kamara (Ki-Hyeon 82), Healy (Kuqi 69).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Smertin, Ashton.

Booked: Dempsey(45,f), Davies (49,f), Stefanovic (52,f), Bocanegra (88,f).

Goals: Davies 32
(Free kick scored by Simon Davies, right-footed into top-left of goal from 35 yards out.)

Att: 39,392

Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).

Source soccernet
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