Edwin van der Sar kept Southampton at bay with a string of fine saves as Fulham hung on to claim a creditable point at St. Mary’s.
Gordon Strachan’s side had the best of a dire first half but couldn’t find a way past Fulham’s Dutch international goalkeeper despite forcing a remarkable seventeen corners. van der Sar made two top-notch saves from Brett Ormerod and also spread himself to deny Anders Svensson. Brian McBride was left horribly isolated in the lone striker’s role and Fulham happily settled for a point.
Kevin Phillips came the closest to breaking the deadlock after a dreadful first fifteen minutes but the experienced striker was stopped in his tracks by the offside flag. Phillips had a hand in the next opening as the Saints swarmed all over the Fulham defence – producing a fine cross for Brett Ormerod, but van der Sar astonishingly tipped over his venomous volley.
van der Sar bailed Fulham out again five minutes before the break when a horrible Ian Pearce mistake gave Anders Svensson a sight of goal and the Dutch goalkeeper was on hand to block Ormerod’s shot with his legs early in the second half after the Southampton striker had snuck between Pearce and Bocanegra.
The home side continued to lay siege to the Fulham goal. Rory Delap lifted a tame shot over the bar before Mattias Svensson’s downward header caused consternation from a corner and Moritz Volz blocked bravely as Ormerod appeared destined to put Strachan’s side ahead. Andy D’Urso then waved away concerted Southampton penalty appeals after Pearce appeared to control Graeme Le Saux’s cross with his hand.
A Fulham foray forward saw Sean Davis expertly find McBride but his snapshot was hammered straight into Danny Higginbotham and Marian Pahars was furious with himself after to beat van der Sar at the far post as he slid in. Antti Niemi was finally called into action with ten minutes to play when Davis’ 20 yarder had him scrambling to his left and Fulham came closest to snatching an unlikely victory in the closing stages with McBride forcing the experienced goalkeeper into a good save.
SOUTHAMPTON (4-3-3): Niemi, Dodd, M. Svensson, Higginbotham, Le Saux; Telfer, Delap, A. Svensson; Pahars, Ormerod (Beattie 75), Phillips. Subs (not used): Smith, Hall, Baird, Fernandes.
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Pearce, Bocanegra; Djetou, Davis (Inamoto 89), Clark (Legwinski 65); Malbranque (Petta 58), Boa Morte, McBride. Subs (not used): Crossley, Hayles.
BOOKED: Malbranque, Volz.
REFEREE: Andy D’Urso (Essex).