Friday 20 April 2018

Fonte double act salvages late point for Saints

Southampton 2 Fulham 2

Alex Crook

Fulham's 77-year wait for a victory on Southampton soil appeared to be coming to an end when Martin Jol's men recovered from falling behind after only four minutes to lead 2-1 thanks to a Jos Hooiveld own goal and Kieran Richardson's first strike for the club.

They reckoned, however, without defender Jose Fonte, whose header had given Southampton the lead. He completed an unlikely double to salvage a draw and rescue manager Nigel Adkins from an inquest into his decision to take off top-scorer Rickie Lambert with 23 minutes remaining.

Until Lambert departed, to be replaced by Brazilian Guly do Prado, Southampton had been in almost total control against a Fulham side who badly missed the injured Dimitar Berbatov.

Lambert had dared to talk up his prospects of earning an England call-up in the build-up to the match and should have scored a couple of goals to strengthen his selection claims.

It took until the hour mark for Fulham to seriously threaten the Southampton goal, with Steve Sidwell's bundled close-range shot striking a post seconds before Hugo Rodallega's header was kept out by goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

But Fulham were gifted a route back into the game on 69 minutes when Hooiveld made a mess of his footwork to divert John Arne Risse's long-range shot beyond a stranded Gazzaniga.

Their turnaround looked complete two minutes from time as Brede Hangeland's hopeful long ball sent Sascha Riether free on the right touchline and the defender's cross was steered home from eight yards by the onrushing Richardson.

Fonte made amends for his part in failing to defend Richardson's goal by heading in Danny Fox's 90th-minute free-kick at the back post, although Jol cried foul.

He said: "We should have had a free-kick before they did. I thought 'we are okay now we have the ball'. I cannot say too much because in England you get in trouble and you get fined. I cannot afford to pay fines from my wages."

Southampton have now conceded 20 goals in seven Premier League games and Adkins admitted he may be forced to adapt a more defensive approach.

"The game was far too open and we did not have control of the second half," he said.

Irish Independent

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