Collins John scored within a minute of coming off the bench to save Fulham from an FA Cup shock at the hands of Derby County.
The Dutch teenager fired a timely reminder to manager Chris Coleman of his finishing capabilities by blasting Mark Pembridge’s through ball past Lee Camp. The Rams had threatened to cause a surprise when their own substitute Marcus Tudgay guided home a cross from Tommy Smith ten minutes after half time.
The first half was largely devoid of incident as only Derby winger Marco Reich regularly threatened the Fulham defence but neither Smith or Grzegorz Rasiak could profit from his teasing deliveries. Fulham, without Papa Bouba Diop, Zesh Rehman and Carlos Bocanegra through injury, fashioned a decent opening for Sylvain Legwinski but the Frenchman lashed horribly high after being sent through by Tomasz Radzinski. The Canadian international then picked out Andy Cole with a peach of a cross but the veteran striker couldn’t get any power on his header.
George Burley’s side were much more aggressive after the break and Rasiak just failed to get on the end of a great cross from Inigo Idiakez. Tudgay headed over from Smith’s ball in, but Derby were looking threatening and it was no surprise when they went in front. Smith and Rasiak combined effectively on the right and the former’s cross allowed Tudgay to turn home from five yards out. Smith nearly made it two with a powerful strike from distance just after the hour – but Coleman’s introduction of John turned the tide.
The teenager made his manager look like a magician by taking just fifty seconds to level the scores, racing onto ex-Derby midfielder Pembridge’s floated forward ball and blasting home. van der Sar thrust a leg out to prevent Tudgay from restoring County’s lead almost immediately and the two sides will have to do it all again in a replay next month.
DERBY COUNTY (4-4-2): Camp; Kenna, Johnson, Huddlestone, Mills; Bisgaard, Idiakez, Taylor, Reich (Tudgay 45), Rasiak, Smith.
Subs (not used): Grant, Junior, Bolder, Boertien.
GOAL: Tudgay (56).
FULHAM (4-3-3): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Goma, Knight; Legwinski, Pembridge, Clark; Radzinski (John 70), Boa Morte, Cole. Subs (not used): Crossley, Pearce, Jensen, McBride.
GOAL: John (71).
REFEREE: Graham Poll (Hertfordshire).