Jean Tigana might have had a justified grievance after referee Jeff Winter declined to dismiss Dean Kiely for a wild challenge on Louis Saha – but the French manager knows in his heart of hearts that the blame for his side failing to come home from Charlton with all three points lay closer to home. Fulham carved out the clearer chances in what became a feisty London derby, but had to settle for a stalemate after Luis Boa Morte cancelled out Andy Melville’s own goal.

This meeting between the last two Division One champions ended up seeing stand-ins take centre stage. Alan Curbishley has had to mix and match in the midst of a shocking injury crisis – he is now missing eight first-team regulars – and had to field a different striking partnership for the third game in a row. Fulham, too, were not able to introduce their new front man. Steve Marlet had to wait for his debut following his move from Lyon after picking up injury in Chile with France last week.

But Fulham should have been home and hosed by half time having created enough chances to win three games in the first 45 minutes. Saha should have added to his three goals in the first month of Premiership action on several occasions as the visitors outplayed Charlton in the first period. He dragged a clever lay-off from Boa Morte well wide of goal but should have been awarded a penalty after being taken out by Kiely he latched on to a forward ball from Edwin van der Sar. Referee Winter pointed for a goal kick, leaving Tigana seething on the sidelines.

Curbishley had to switch from a 5-3-2 formation to the more conventional 4-4-2 in order to try and ensure his side saw more of the ball. Fulham still carried the great threat with Sylvain Legwinski coming close to marking his first start with a goal when he shot over after some patient approach play from the visitors. But Charlton showed signs of life when Graham Stuart drew a smart save from van der Sar with an excellent volley and took the lead when Melville turned past his own goalkeeper in a doomed attempt to clear the danger after Shaun Bartlett had headed down Chris Powell’s cross.

Stung from being punished for failing to take countless chances, Fulham drew level within four minutes. Legwinski had a header clawed out by Kiely, who was fortunate to still be on the field, and the French midfielder Рa recent £3m arrival from Bordeaux Рplayed a pivotal role in the equaliser. He drove deep into Addicks territory having seized possession from Stuart and, when his shot was blocked, Boa Morte was in the right place to sweep home the loose ball.

Saha spurned a great opportunity to put Fulham in front before Kiely came to Charlton’s rescue with a superb double save, denying Legwinski and Boa Morte in quick succession. Curbishley replaced the ineffectual Kevin Lisbie with John Robertson at half time and that seemed to perk up the home side. The Welsh midfielder, who scored the winner when these two teams met in Division One here two years ago, almost restored Charlton’s lead with a drive that was diverted over the bar by Steve Finnan.

Scott Parker’s volley lacked sufficient power to unduly trouble van der Sar and it was Tigana’s travellers who finished the stronger. Boa Morte shot wide after another lightning break and substitute Steed Malbranque should have done better than sky wastefully over the top seconds after coming off the bench. Sean Davis wasted a pair of presentable opportunities to seal a late victory – sidefooting over from close range and then seeing another effort blocked by Luke Young – but Fulham were indebted to van der Sar for preserving even a share of spoils after the Dutch goalkeeper produced a fine reaction stop to deny Powell in the closing stages.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC (5-3-2): Kiely; Young, Powell, Todd, Fish, Brown; Parker (Konchesky 70), Stuart, Euell; Bartlett (Salako 80), Lisbie (Robertson 45). Subs (not used):  Roberts, Fortune.

BOOKED: Brown, Bartlett.

GOAL: Melville (o.g. 34)

FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Symons; Davis, Collins, Legwinski, Clark (Malbranque 62); Saha (Hayles 77), Boa Morte. Subs (not used): Taylor, Ouaddoh, Goldbaek.

GOAL: Boa Morte (38).

REFEREE: Jeff Winter (Cleveland).

ATTENDANCE: 20,451.