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Saturday 27 September K.O. 12:45



Craven Cottage | 25th September 2010 15:00

Fulham v Everton

Everton had to settle for a point in this tantalising encounter with in-form Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The Blues kept their first clean sheet of the season but just couldn't find the goal which would have also brought them a first league victory.

But it certainly wasn't for the want of trying, with Yakubu, Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar all going close in a game that was indicative of the season so far - Everton's football and possession play was impressive but goals proved elusive.

David Moyes made four changes from the midweek trip to Brentford, with Seamus Coleman given his first Premier League start and Tim Cahill back in the starting XI after recovering from a knee problem.

Yakubu fights for the ball at FulhamYakubu hustles the Fulham backline

Cahill supported Yakubu up front, whilst Coleman was employed on the right of midfield rather than at right-back - with that slot occupied by skipper Phil Neville.

The young Irishman provided some promising crosses and runs down the flank. But the most influential player in a blue shirt was Arteta, who did his utmost to orchestrate things from the centre of park alongside the typically impressive Marouane Fellaini.

There was a huge sense of frustration at the final whistle that all three points had not been secured. But the manager will take heart from a dominant performance at a ground which will prove too tricky a destination for a lot of clubs this term.

After a cagey opening it was the Blues who produced the first chance of any note, Pienaar forcing Mark Schwarzer into a fumbled stop with a low drive from 12 yards in the 12th minute.

It signalled an extended period of pressure from the visitors, but Fulham's organised and resolute defending ensured space in the final third was something Everton were struggling to find.

Marouane Fellaini and Dickson EtutuMarouane Fellaini and Dickson Etuhu battle in the midfield

Nevertheless, a number of dangerous crosses from Pienaar and Leighton Baines on the right and left flanks offered up a great deal of promise for David Moyes' men.

Zoltan Gera was the first Fulham man to really test Tim Howard - his 35th minute drive from the right edge of the box forcing the US-stopper into an acrobatic dive across his six-yard box. Thankfully, the ball flew wide of his right-hand upright.

And as the Cottagers found their rhythm, Howard was called upon to deny Dickson Etuhu four minutes before the break. The midfield-man ghosted into the box to send a free header from Carlos Salcido's cross goalwards.

By way of response, Arteta produced a powerful effort from 25 yards that Schwarzer acrobatically pushed behind for a corner.

After the interval Mark Hughes made a couple of early changes and the home side began to enjoy more play inside Everton's half. A slip by Baines on the slick surface presented Dempsey with an opportunity to shoot in the 59th minute but Howard was able to parry it to safety.

At the other end, the Everton left-back turned provider minutes later with a cross that Cahill sent wide via an inventive overhead kick.

It was to prove the Aussie's last involvement in the game, replaced by Leon Osman for the final third of the contest.

Steven Pienaar shoots at Craven CottagePienaar goes close with this effort

Osman immediately got into the thick of the action, sending a dipping volley into the arms of Schwarzer as the autumn sun came out over Craven Cottage.

Yakubu was inches from connecting to a tantalising Coleman cross from the right, Arteta fired just over the bar and then the Nigerian dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box.

Fulham had chances of their own though, Howard saving excellently from Dempsey and Simon Davies fluffing a shot from a decent position.

As the game entered its closing stages Yakubu forced a great stop from Schwarzer and, agonisingly, Pienaar just missed out to the Fulham backline in the race to prod the loose ball home.

Seamus ColemanColeman surges forward

As the anxiety increased from both sides, the home fans felt aggrieved that two penalty claims were turned down by Howard Webb.

Their frustration was intensified by the fact it was the visitors who looked the more likely to find a winner as the seconds ticked away - with Yakubu again going close in injury time.

How frustrating, then, that the goal did not arrive.



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