Belfast Telegraph

Bore draw at Craven Cottage

Sunderland climbed one place to sixth in the Barclays Premier League after drawing 0-0 with Fulham in a low-quality contest at Craven Cottage.

Neither side could complain with the outcome, although Fulham will be frustrated that a series of second-half chances were foiled by some resolute defending.

At one point in the second half Sunderland had a four-on-one overlap and a goal appeared certain, but an abysmal pass from Darren Bent ruined the moment.

The match started at a brisk pace with a swinging arm from Lee Cattermole on John Pantsil provoking a furious response from home fans.

Fulham were suffering from conceding possession far too easily in the final third, though both sides were struggling to build any rhythm amid a frantic opening 20 minutes.

The home defence dealt with a dangerous ball by Jordan Henderson, crowding out Bent and Danny Welbeck. Fulham finally burst into life in the 27th minute when Zoltan Gera sent Diomansy Kamara into space only for the Senegal striker's final ball to be cleared by John Mensah.

Andrew Johnson replaced Kamara for the second half, an admission by manager Mark Hughes that Fulham desperately needed some inspiration.

Fulham did begin the second half with more energy and nearly went ahead in the 56th minute when Clint Dempsey just failed to reach Carlos Salcido's brilliant cross.

It then took a cleared header from Phil Bardsley, the last line of defence, to prevent the home side from taking the lead through Dickson Etuhu's goalbound effort.

Simon Mignolet produced an excellent save after Johnson had pulled the trigger from point-blank range, but the Cottagers were almost hit on the break. Sunderland rushed upfield with only Pantsil defending against four players only for Bent to fluff his crucial ball to Asamoah Gyan.

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