An inexperienced Fulham reserve side gained a creditable draw at Portsmouth tonight and kept up their fine league record this season.
They faced a strong Pompey side full of players desperate to try and make an impression on caretaker manager Paul Hart. New signing Pele, who has yet to make a real impact at Fratton Park, found the net for Portsmouth and Jamie Ashdown returned from injury to keep goal for the home side.
It was Fulham who took the lead after a dreadful mistake by Noe Pamarot. His poor clearance gave Fulham a glorious opportunity inside the box and young defender Chris Smalling made no mistake after Danny Hoesen’s initial effort had come back off the crossbar.
The lead did not last long. Fulham were indebted to keeper Neil Etheridge who made a smart save to deny Paris Cowan-Hall but the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Andre Blackman’s spectacular effort from distance out on the left. Fulham’s cohesion couldn’t have been helped by the departure of Adam Watts moments earlier. The defender had been badly hurt after bravely blocking a shot from Pele.
The Whites might have gone in ahead at the interval after Hoesen turned Cowan-Hall brilliantly but the Dutch striker saw his deflected shot drift agonisingly wide.
Instead, Fulham were behind shortly after the restart. Some slack marking at a corner gave the dangerous Pele enough space to guide a rising drive into the top corner. But the disappointment was soon banished as Nigerian striker Michael Uwezu finished off a flowing move midway through the second period. He collected the ball with his back to goal and did well to lash home a volley for a deserved equaliser.
Fulham had to soak up some late pressure with some desperate defending but will be very pleased with a hard-earned point. The next assignment for the reserves is the local derby against Chelsea at Craven Cottage on April 7, kick-off at 7pm.
PORTSMOUTH (4-5-1): Ashdown; Pamarot, Wilkinson, Primus, Blackman; Cowan-Hall (Bogard 46), Pele (Kilbey 63), Mvuemba, Hughes, Navas Alors (Mantyla, 67); Utaka. Subs (not used): O’Brien, Pack.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Etheridge; Laribi, Anderson, Smalling, Watts (Thomas 31, Kamau 87); Saunders, Harris, Brown, Smith; Hoesen (Owusu-Ansah 85), Uwezu. Sub (not used): Foderingham.