Belfast Telegraph

Fulham and Blackburn share points

Fulham 1 Blackburn Rovers 1: A first point of the season for Blackburn Rovers, but it was not enough to lift them off the bottom of the Premier League table, nor is it likely to quell the unrest surrounding the position of manager Steve Kean.

Not that the mood at Craven Cottage is much happier. Fulham have failed to win any of their first four matches, scoring twice, and are also in the relegation zone.

Brede Hangeland made the point that it is too early to look at the league table, but both dressing rooms will. Fulham climbed well clear of trouble last season after a poor start but for clubs like these very few matches are bankers and such a recovery cannot be assumed.

There are times when Kean sounds like he is living in a parallel universe, and yesterday he insisted: "We were excellent today. I'm confident we'll finish top half." That will be a surprise, but to be fair Rovers did play well in the first half, then defended solidly. Ruben Rochina was the most creative player on the pitch until cramp forced him off and his 32nd-minute goal was superbly struck.

David Dunn was another significant influence and it was only after a calf problem ended his involvement that Fulham took control. Paul Robinson then demonstrated fine handling on a squally afternoon.

Kean added of his own position: "The speculation in the press is not from within our club. I have fantastic backing from the owners. I was in India last weekend and they are happy with the way we are playing and our squad. The way we played today shows the spirit the lads have."

His team's lead lasted six minutes before Bobby Zamora brushed Gaël Givet aside then curled a shot inside the far post. Robinson later denied Danny Murphy and, acrobatically, Clint Dempsey but Fulham, as Jol admitted, "lacked a cutting edge".

Bryan Ruiz has been brought to help provide that but the £10.6m Costa Rican had a lamentable debut, unable to cope with the pace of the game and withdrawn at half-time. Jol insisted that, given time, he would score goals.

The match ended on a worrying note when Junior Hoilett was concussed in a mid-air collision with Mark Schwarzer. After a lengthy break for treatment he was taken off on a stretcher but fortunately soon revived.

Substitutes: Fulham Kelly 6 (Hughes, 18), Dembele 5 (Ruiz, h/t), Johnson (J Riise, 79). Blackburn Olsson 6 (Samba, h/t), Petrovic 5 (Dunn, 52), Lowe (Rochina, 71).

Booked: Fulham Murphy, Hangeland, Schwarzer. Blackburn Salgado.

Man of the match Rochina.

Belfast Telegraph


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