Lee Clark, Jerome Bonnissel and Alain Goma stepped up their recoveries from serious injury tonight as Fulham’s reserves recorded a creditable draw at Southampton.
Clark played the first half an hour, Bonnissel was replaced as planned at half time and Goma came through the full ninety minutes. All three players suffered no adverse effects from their first taste of competitive football in several months and will now rejoin the first team squad for full training.
With the match being played on a narrow pitch at Southampton’s training ground, Fulham’s best chances of the match resulted from a more direct style of play with Stuart Noble and Ishmael Ehui leading the line.
The Whites took the lead through a well worked piece of play when Noble spun away from Darren Kenton before being brought down by the Southampton defender inside the box. Neale McDermott calmly converted penalty. But the Saints equalised through a spot-kick of their own when Ross Flitney upended David Prutton as the winger burst through on goal. The hosts went in front through a fine finish from Kenwyn Jones.
Paul Nevin gave his players a stern talking to at half time and Fulham produced a much improved second half display. They were level ten minutes after the resumption through a fabulous individual strike from Noble, who turned his marker and fired majestically into the top corner from 25 yards out.
Nevin was pleased with a point against the Saints, who are currently third in the table. He told the club’s offical website:
“It was a good test against a team at the tough end of the league. In the early part of the season we would have lost this type of game and by a great margin. But we’ve progressed well since then.
“I have to give a special mention to Liam Fontaine who constantly made good decisions and was physically strong. He was up against a number of Premiership players and was superb. He’s already been out on loan to Yeovil for a month and they were so impressed with him that they kept him for a further two. He may go on out loan at a higher level and if he can get some experience under his belt, we might have another player for Chris and Steve in the near future.”
FULHAM (4-4-2): Flitney; Buari, Goma, Fontaine (Watkins 88), Bonnissel (Milsom 45); Pratley, McDermott, Clark (Timlin 30), Doherty; Ehui, Noble.
GOALS: McDermott (pen 25), Noble (55).