West Brom 2-2 Fulham: points shared in crucial relegation battle

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Fulham: points shared as Fulham come from behind to equalise late in crucial Premier League relegation battle

  • Bobby Decordova-Reid gave Fulham the lead just ten minutes into the fixture 
  • Kyle Bartley and Matheus Pereira turned the game around in the second half
  • Substitute Ivan Cavaleiro salvaged a draw for the Cottagers in the 77th minute 

Fulham led, then West Bromwich Albion led, and in the end, this is the draw no one wanted. This was a must-win for both Sam Allardyce and Scott Parker. 

Not even three points would have lifted their teams out of the Premier League’s relegation zone but what a psychological boost it would have been. What a chance to strike a blow against a direct rival.

Fulham had the better chances to leave as victors. They ought to have led by three goals instead of one at half time, and Parker left in a ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ type of mood.

He can be proud it was a combination of his two substitutes, with Harrison Reed crossing for Ivan Cavaleiro, that they avoided defeat, but this felt like more of a missed opportunity. 

Fulham forward Bobby Decordova-Reid gave the Cottagers the advantage in the 10th minute

Back to drawing board for both these sides sitting 18th and 19th, then. This was Aleksandr Mitrovic’s first start in 2021. He had not scored in any of his last 16 appearances in all competitions for club and country. Yet scoring is not all he does.

Mitrovic was the orchestrator in Fulham’s opener, 10 minutes in. It started with him controlling a ball from Ademola Lookman with his chest. 

So threatened were West Brom, two defenders went to close down, one of them Kieran Gibbs. Wrong decision by the former Arsenal left back.

Gibbs’ attraction to Mitrovic and the ball left Bobby Decordova-Reid all alone. Mitrovic played a nice through-ball into his team-mate’s path, and Reid found the back of the net.

West Bromwich Albion defender Kyle Bartley (centre) equalised in the second half of the game

Reid really ought to have made it 2-0 in the 18th minute. This time, Gibbs seemingly tripped over his own feet to leave Reid on his own, with only West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to beat. Unfortunately for Fulham, the shot struck the post.

So unhappy was Sam Allardyce, he made a substitution, replacing defender Dara O’Shea with forward Karlan Grant after 24 minutes. Yet still, Fulham were all over West Brom like a cheap suit.

Lookman wanted a penalty after a Mitrovic pass and he did have a case. It looked like he was being pulled back by Semi Ajayi as he got a shot away, saved by Johnstone. Parker was outraged. He wanted VAR to award a spot-kick but they said play-on.

Allardyce was glad to hear the half-time whistle go with his side only 1-0 down. After a hopeless 5-0 home loss to Manchester City, West Brom’s new manager laid out a few home truths in an hour-long dressing room lock-in. You imagine voices were raised at the break here, too.

Attacking midfielder Matheus Pereira’s strike completed a turnaround for Sam Allardyce’s side

They arrived for the start of the second half energised and had an equaliser within two minutes. Matheus Pereira crossed, it deflected off Fulham’s Ola Aina, the ball kindly fall for Kyle Bartley and it was 1-1 after a side-footed finish. 

Parker couldn’t believe it. After all the chances they failed to take, West Brom took their first, and it was game on.

What a welcome to West Brom this was for Mbaye Diagne. Signed on loan from Galatasaray on Friday, he was thrown on for the second half. 

This must have felt a world away from the warmth of Istanbul and the 29-year-old was told to pin Fulham’s defenders back here.

But substitute Ivan Cavaleiro scored in the 77th minute to ensure the points were shared

Cavaleiro and fellow replacement Harrison Reed (right) combined to restore parity for Fulham

The visitors were shell-shocked, perhaps still thinking about all those missed chances. 

Then, it got worse for Parker, as West Brom scored a second goal. Diagne played in a low cross and Pereira got to it ahead of Aina, beating Alphonse Areola.

Could Fulham respond? They could, and it was down to the substitutes. Reed had the ball on the right wing, crossed and found Cavaleiro, who scored with a diving header.

Fulham looked the likelier to nab a winner but it wasn’t to be. A point apiece, but both these teams needed three, really. 

West Brom v Fulham: Match Facts 

West Brom (3-4-2-1): Johnstone 5.5; Ajayi 5.5, Bartley 5.5, O’Shea 5.5 (Grant 24, 6); Furlong 5.5, Gallagher 6, Livermore 6 (Phillips 83), Gibbs 4.5; Snodgrass 5.5, Pereira 6; Robinson 4.5 (Diagne 45, 6).

Subs (not used): Button, Robson-Kanu. Townsend, Sawyers, Ivanovic, Peltier.

Scorers: Bartley (47), Pereira (66).

Booked: Bartley.

Manager: Sam Allardyce 5.5.

Fulham (3-4-3): Areola 5.5; Aina 5.5 (Tete 81), Andersen 5.5, Adarabioyo 5.5; Decordova-Reid 6 (Cavaleiro 72, 6), Lemina 6 (Reed 72, 6), Anguissa 6, Robinson 6; Loftus-Cheek 6, Mitrovic 6.5, Lookman 6.

Subs (not used): Rodak, Hector, Kebano, Ream, Onomah, Kamara.

Scorers: Decordova-Reid (10), Cavaleiro (77).

Booked: None.

Manager: Scott Parker 6.

Referee: Anthony Taylor 6. 

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