Fulham fought for a precious point tonight at Tottenham Hotspur – earning an excellent draw having played more than 50 minutes with ten men after Maik Taylor was harshly sent off. Spurs threw everything at Jean Tigana’s side, who almost snatched a late win once Darren Anderton had himself been dismissed for a second bookable offence, with Kasey Keller saving superbly from Louis Saha.
Both teams battered the woodwork and a frustrated Glenn Hoddle kicked a water bottle out of his technical area as Graham Barber blew the final whistle. A feisty and yet even encounter saw both sides rattle the woodwork, finish with ten men and fight to the death for all three points. A share of the spoils was the least Fulham deserved for their organisation and resilience, especially after Taylor was dismissed having conceded a penalty having barely touched Simon Davies as the Welsh winger bore down on goal.
Tigana had no more room for tactical tweaks in the second half having been forced to bring on substitute goalkeeper Martin Herrera as well as replace the injured Steve Marlet and Martin Djetou. But the visitors battled bravely with Milenko Acimovic missing two glaring chances to put the home side in front as the Whites defended diligently for the most part. Once Anderton had been red carded for two fouls in the space of four minutes, Fulham were able to express themselves in the final third and Saha, having been denied by a brilliant saving tackle from Ledley King, was unfortunate to see his powerful late drive touched onto the woodwork by Keller.
The hosts carried the greater threat in the early stages but barely tested Taylor, whilst Facundo Sava sent a header straight at Keller. Spurs had most of the ball and looked comfortable in possession so it was something of a surprise when Fulham hit the front. Dean Richards made a horrible mess of dealing with a routine kick from Taylor and, after Marlet sped past King, the ball broke for Luis Boa Morte and, in his desperation to clear, King ended up diverting the Portugese winger’s finish into his own net.
Tottenham pressed forward undeterred and found Taylor in terrific form. The Northern Ireland international turned over a drive from Anderton and then tipped King’s header onto the bar after Fulham had failed to clear the ensuing corner. He was incandescent with rage when he was sent off after clearly getting a hand to ball as Simon Davies surged towards goal having latched onto a raking pass from Richards. Referee Barber gave short shrift to the Fulham protests and Teddy Sheringham tucked the penalty past Herrera.
The Argentinian stand-in wasn’t troubled as much as Fulham might have feared in a second half that Spurs dominated. Acimovic, who had replaced the injured Gus Poyet, headed a dangerous cross straight at him and then contrived to fire over the bar from three yards out with the goal gaping following a pinpoint cross from Stephen Carr. After Anderton’s two moments of madness, the pendulum swung back towards Fulham but Saha was unable to take either of his two chances in the closing stages. In the last minute, Steve Finnan cleared a Sheringham header from a corner off the line – but Fulham were comfortable in claiming this well-deserved point.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-4-2): Keller, Bunjevcevic, King, Richards, Taricco, Anderton, Poyet (Acimovic 35; Etherington 83), Davies, Carr, Sheringham, Doherty. Subs (not used): Sullivan, Thatcher, Toda.
BOOKED: Richards, Anderton.
SENT OFF: Anderton.
GOAL: Sheringham (pen 39).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Ouaddoh, Djetou (Knight 12), Wome; Davis, Legwinski, Malbranque, Boa Morte; Sava (Herrera 38), Marlet (Saha 18). Subs (not used): Harley, Inamoto.
BOOKED: Wome, Boa Morte.
SENT OFF: Taylor.
GOAL: King (o.g. 15).
REFEREE: Graham Barber (Hertfordshire).