Fulham fought back from 2-0 down to deny former midfielder Lee Clark a first win as Blackpool manager as both sides had to settle for a point after an absorbing contest at Craven Cottage tonight.
Blackpool got off to the perfect start when Ishmael Miller put them in front after just ninety seconds and new loan signing Jacob Murphy doubled the lead. But Tony McMahon’s red card four minutes before the break for lashing out at Hugo Rodallega put the visitors’ position under question and the Championship’s bottom club showed their defensive vulnerability when Scott Parker punished a failure to clear a Fulham corner in first-half stoppage time.
The Tangerines, who haven’t won at Craven Cottage since 1986, faced a tall order of trying to preserve their slender lead for the duration of the second half with ten men. They manfully held out until seventeen minutes from time when Joe Lewis, who had earlier pulled off a brilliant reaction save to deny Nikolay Bodurov, was deceived by a Bryan Ruiz corner, which flew straight into the Hammersmith End net. Such was Fulham’s dominance of the play in the second half that Kit Symons suggested his side were the ones who had dropped points, but you fancy it was Clark – his former Fulham team-mate – who was reflecting more bitterly on the missed opportunity afterwards.
Blackpool’s start was certainly arresting. Miller’s snapshot from a precise Donervon Daniels’ pass stunned the Cottage – and gave Marcus Bettinelli little chance. The former West Bromwich Albion forward then made the second – sliding a low cross into the path of debutant Murphy, who converted with the minimum of fuss. Clark was furious with captain McMahon for kicking out at Rodallega – a moment that both managers agreed changed the game – and it didn’t take long for Fulham to make their numerical advantage count. All in all, a draw was probably a fair result, but Symons could do without his side’s shambolic defending of the early months of the season making a return now he has got the managerial job on a full-time basis.
FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Zverotic, Amorebieta (Stafylidis 44), Bodurov, Burn; Parker; Christensen, Williams (Roberts 68); Ruiz; Dembele (Woodrow 76), Rodallega. Subs (not used): Kiraly, Hutchinson, Hyndman, Smith.
BOOKED: Parker, Christensen.
GOALS: Parker (45+1), Ruiz (73).
BLACKPOOL (4-2-3-1): Lewis; McMahon, Dunne, Daniels, Clarke; Lundstram, Perkins; Murphy (Delfouneso 77), Blackman, Orlandi (Mellis 52); Miller (Ranger 68). Subs (not used): Zoko, Parish, Oriol, Cywka.
BOOKED: Clarke, Dunne, Perkins.
SENT OFF: McMahon.
GOALS: Miller (2), Murphy (26).
REFEREE: Bobby Madley (West Yorkshire).