Fulham - Albion 2-0 (0-0) 08/09

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Bobby Zamora scored his first goal since mid-September as Fulham continued their excellent home form with a comfortable victory over West Brom.

Zamora had earlier missed a glorious chance but was perfectly placed to tap in an Andy Johnson flick on the hour.

Provider turned scorer 10 minutes later when Johnson followed up a saved Zamora shot to calmly slot home.

West Brom's Roman Bednar had a penalty saved by Mark Schwarzer in injury time to compound the Baggies' woe.

There was a certain irony in that West Brom's first game after manager Tony Mowbray had taken a swipe at critical television pundits was aired live.

It is probably for the best that he remains untroubled by what the media experts have to say as his side were well off the pace against a Fulham side with the second best home record in the league.

But the main criticism of Roy Hodgson's side - an inability to convert chances - was again in evidence here.

A Danny Murphy free-kick from 20 yards after four minutes cleared the wall but could not beat the outstretched finger-tips of Scott Carson, who parried it on to the post and behind.

The busy Simon Davies also went close when he collected a short corner, bought himself some space with a neat turn and drew another fingertip save from Carson, although the shot was going wide.

At times West Brom were their own worst enemies and they repeatedly gifted the ball to Fulham on the edge of their own area.

Again, only a Carson save from a fiercely struck Dickson Etuhu volley kept them from being duly punished.Later, Carson was forced to scramble back to palm a Leon Barnett back-pass header past the post and away from the on-rushing Johnson.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that the 23-year-old former Liverpool keeper, an ever-present for Albion this season, would be given plenty of opportunity to impress the attending England manager Fabio Capello.

When Carson was beaten, the woodwork came to West Brom's rescue as the Baggies clung desperately to parity.

First US international Clint Dempsey struck the bar with a 30-yard strike and then Murphy repeated the trick with a curling shot from just outside the area.

Zamora had no-one to blame for failing to score though when Davies' knock-down found him unmarked 12-yards out.

That his shot was closer to row Z than the goal is a testimony to the striker's goal drought which stretched back to 13 September.

Admirably though the striker refused to hide and was rewarded with his first goal in over 29 hours of Premier League action in the second half.

Johnson stooped too low to flick on Davies' cross and Zamora was perfectly placed to side-foot the ball in from point-blank range past Carson's despairing dive.

The goal was the least Fulham deserved but the visitors gave warning shortly after of how fragile a single-goal lead can be.

A Robert Koren shot tested Schwarzer but the Australian was up to the challenge before Borja Valero attempted a long-range effort that flew wide of the right-hand upright.

Towering Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland should have given the scoreline a more realistic reflection of the home side's dominance but his header struck the bar and was cleared.

Instead the second was supplied by Johnson, who followed up a parry by Carson from a Zamora shot to calmly slot into a largely unguarded net after 70 minutes.

Fulham's comfort for the remainder of the game was epitomised by the substitutions of the game's three most pivotal players: Zamora, Johnson and Murphy.

And they almost paid for some late complacency as Hangeland unnecessarily tripped Baggies substitute Bednar in the box to concede a penalty.

The Czech striker picked himself up to strike the penalty to the left of Schwarzer, who dived to his right and blocked the effort.

The incident summed up the visitors' performance and preserved a clean-sheet the home side thoroughly deserved.

 


Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:

"Until we pass that magical 40 (point) mark we won't even contemplate that things are looking easier.

"If we get past that mark we can start raising our heads a little bit and hoping for the higher places in the league.

"But I'm really happy today. In a game we did need to win it was important to get that victory and the points in the bag.

"Zamora's kept at things well, formed a partnership with Johnson and that's been very important for us.

"It's great credit to his strength of character and his determination that he's been able to ride though the bad spell and today he's got his reward."

West Brom Manager tony Mowbray:

"Fulham thoroughly deserved to win.

"We rode our luck right from the start. We were better second half but lost goals through poor defending.

"On any given day you've got to keep going because you can catch teams on a day when you can beat them.

"We'll try to pick up points at home and try and catch a team on a bad day away from home."

 


Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy (Dacourt 85), Etuhu, Dempsey, Johnson (Kamara 80), Zamora (Nevland 80).
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Gray, Kallio, Baird.

Goals: Zamora 61, Johnson 72.

West Brom: Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite, Barnett, Robinson, Morrison (Menseguez 77), Koren, Borja Valero, Filipe Teixeira (Brunt 50), Fortune (Bednar 81), Simpson.
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Cech, Moore, Martis.

Booked: Robinson.

Att: 22,394

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

 


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Fulham's Danny Murphy on 7.26 (on 90 minutes).