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Fulham 0-0 Wolves FAC 3r 1415 Daily Mail

last updated Sunday 04th January 2015, 1:59 PM
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Nicholas Godden at Daily Mail

Fulham (0) 0-0 (0) Wolves

The romance of the FA Cup was in pitifully short supply at Craven Cottage as Fulham and Wolves played out an instantly forgettable goalless draw.

Chances were at a premium as neither side could take a firm grip on proceedings and the result is a Molineux replay that only adds to an already-hectic Championship schedule.

It was Fulham's lowest crowd of the season and those who bothered to turn up on a dreary afternoon by the Thames will feel no inclination to tune in for the highlights.

The game's best chance fell to Leon Clarke of Wolves, who somehow missed an open goal from eight yards out after the impressive Bakary Sako had seen a low angled drive touched onto the post by goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.

Sako, the strong and powerful Mali international, was the game's stand-out performer and Wolves will miss him as he flies off to the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

The tournament also serves as a shop window and manager Kenny Jackett is braced for interest from Premier League suitors.

He said: 'We'd love to keep him, but every transfer window there's constant speculation on him. He's been very consistent for me in League One and the Championship.

'Wherever you are, your best players can be vulnerable. If we can keep him, that would be absolutely fantastic.

'We've always been honest with the player about Premier League possibilities. His ambition is the Premier League but so is ours.'

Kit Symons clearly feels Fulham can go on a bit of a Cup run and fielded a strong side, while Kenny Jackett made four changes from the team that beat Brentford before the New Year.

It was a soporific start, with the sole moment of cheer in the opening 20 minutes coming when Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme booted a clearance clean over the stand and into the river.

Slowly, both sides started to carve out chances and the quiet crowd responded. Karl Henry picked out Clarke with a right-wing cross but the striker's header, though firm, was directed straight at Marcus Bettinelli.

After Cauley Woodrow had dispatched a shot half-way up the Putney End, Wolves broke swiftly before Bakary Sako's daisy-cutter dribbled tamely through to Bettinelli.

The best chance of the half fell to Sako just on the half-hour. The Malian strode imperiously down the left and struck a low angled shot that cracked the base of the post with the goalkeeper getting a touch. It rebounded perfectly for Clarke but he somehow missed the unguarded net from eight yards.

Five minutes shy of half-time, the ever-willing Jack Grimmer crossed from the right and Hugo Rodallega, largely ineffective, attempted a spectacular overhead kick that narrowly cleared the bar.

Sako had been Wolves' greatest threat and, in stoppage time, he curled a set-piece over the target at the other end.

The visitors started the second-half with purpose and Clarke tore to the byline to cut the ball back to Lee Evans. His powerful shot was blocked by Bettinelli at the near post.

The home faithful raised their voices to try and rouse Fulham and it had the desired effect, with first Cauley Woodrow and then Seko Fofana sending shots over.

Midway through the second-half Henry's header from a Matt Doherty cross was tipped over the bar by Bettinelli and the midfielder was played through shortly afterwards after Shaun Hutchinson slipped up.

The defender was rescued by Bettinelli, who pushed Henry's effort round the post.

Sako looked the most likely to score by far and, after cutting inside from the left, he curled a shot that flashed past the far post with Bettinelli rooted to the turf.

In the last five minutes, Fulham broke following a Wolves corner and Scott Parker flicked the ball forward to Fofana sprinting clear. He hurried his shot and Ikeme palmed it away on the edge of his box.

Fulham boss Kit Symons said: 'It was a probably a typical Cup tie, lot of blood and guts, lot of endeavour but it lacked that little bit of quality, that little bit of craft and guile.

'You can see by the team we put out today, we took it very seriously. It's the FA Cup, it deserves to be treated with the utmost respect.

'We knew it would be tough and hard-fought as Wolves are a big, powerful, well-organised side. I hoped we'd match that and have the quality to break them down, but some of our decision making in the final third wasn't there today.'

Fulham (4-4-2 ): Bettinelli 7; Grimmer 7, Hutchinson 6.5, Bodurov 6.5, Stafylidis 6; Parker (c) 7; Christensen 6 (Kavanagh 32, 6), Fofana 6.5; McCormack 6.5; Rodallega 6, Woodrow 6 (Dembele 70)
Subs not used: Kiraly, Ruiz, Roberts, Williams, Burn

Booked: Parker 17

Wolves (4-5-1): Ikeme 6; Iorfa 6, Batth (c) 6.5, Stearman 6.5, Doherty 6; Evans 6, Price 6, Henry 6.5, Edwards 6.5, Sako 7.5; Clarke 6.5 (Dicko 62)
Subs not used: Saville, Ricketts, McAlinden, Ebanks-Landell, Jacobs, Kuszczak

Booked: Evans 69

Referee: Lee Probert

Attendance: 11,879

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