Premier League - Rovers hold Fulham at the Cottage

Sun, 11 Sep 18:07:00 2011

Fulham and Blackburn Rovers remain stuck in the bottom three of the Premier League, without a win between them after four games of the season, following a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage that witnessed a nasty injury to David Hoilett.

Fulham v Blackburn

Rovers, who collected their first point of the 2011-12 campaign, enjoyed an impressive first-half performance as Ruben Rochina struck a fantastic opener after 32 minutes in West London. However, Bobby Zamora quickly equalised for Fulham with a fine finish of his own.

The Cottagers removed £10.6 million signing Bryan Ruiz at half-time following a difficult introduction to English football, and were the better side in a game that extended into a 112th minute after an eventful and worrying conclusion to proceedings.

Hoilett was clattered on the edge of the box by Mark Schwarzer as he challenged for the ball in injury time and required lengthy treatment before being stretchered off in a neck brace. Schwarzer could consider himself fortunate to avoid a red card.

Rochina, scorer of two goals against Sheffield Wednesday in the Carling Cup and making only his second Premier League start, gave an early glimpse of his intent as he raced onto a ball that bisected the Fulham defence, checked back when he could have pulled the trigger and curled a weak effort which Schwarzer clasped with ease.

The January signing from Barcelona was stationed out wide with David Goodwillie operating as a lone striker, and the Scot dismissed early fears about a possible hamstring injury when he executed a decent overhead kick that flew off target after 15 minutes.

On 22 minutes came a moment of controversy. Scott Dann, on debut, played a risky pass across his own box and Bobby Zamora took possession before being clattered into by Michel Salgado just inside the box. Referee Howard Webb took no action and the Spaniard could consider himself fortunate not to have conceded a penalty.

There was no disputing Blackburn's opening goal after 32 minutes. Hoilett played a neat pass back to Rochina on the edge of the box and he unleashed a fantastic drive that flew past Schwarzer, struck the underside of the bar and nestled in the net.

Fulham threatened intermittently, but it was never going to be an easy afternoon for Blackburn, who have had such a traumatic summer and start to the season. Inside six minutes the scores were level once again after Fulham exploited some poor defending by the visiting side.

Damien Duff had been enjoying the free run of the right wing against his former club and it was from this area that Fulham created the equaliser. Zamora received the ball in the channel, swerved past the culpable Gael Givet and opened up his body before curling a delightful finish across Paul Robinson and inside the far post.

Martin Jol's introduction of Moussa Dembele for Ruiz at the break gave them more fluency in attack and only a superb intervention from Givet prevented Zamora from scoring a second after 57 minutes as he waited to tap in a cross from John Arne Riise at the back post.

Blackburn continued to soak up pressure and after 73 minutes they were reliant on Robinson to prevent Danny Murphy from putting Fulham in front as the keeper flung out his left arm to stop a curling effort finding the far corner.

Still the Cottagers pushed forward in search of their first win of the season and inside the final 10 minutes Brede Hangeland beat Dann to a Murphy corner on the six-yard box, only to head wide. Salgado was then guilty of tackling Johnson from behind in the box but seemingly got enough of the ball to placate Webb.

Rovers enjoyed a rare opening when the pitch opened up for Goodwillie with four minutes remaining but the Scot opted to curl an effort wide instead of passing square for Formica, who was in a better position. After Robinson then saved from Dempsey, Rovers felt they were hard done by in a moment of late controversy.

Hoilett wriggled away from Kelly and bravely jumped to challenge for the ball as Schwarzer came charging out of his goal. The forward just got to the ball ahead of his opponent and was clattered into by the big Australian on the edge of the box in a horrible clash of heads and bodies.

The Blackburn forward required lengthy treatment and was stretchered off nine minutes into added time, with Rovers left wondering why Schwarzer was only booked and not dismissed for the challenge. Fulham had used all their substitutes but avoided a dismissal, with the game finishing a full 12 minutes into added time.

Tom Adams - follow me on Twitter @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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