Matt Smith salvaged a point for struggling Fulham at Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon with a second-half equaliser at Hillsborough.
Smith’s second strike in as many matches meant Kit Symons’ side headed home from Yorkshire with a share of the spoils, although the tall striker was indebted to a moment of magic from Ryan Tunnicliffe. The former Manchester United midfielder managed to turn the ball into the path of Smith whilst lying on the floor and he flicked home via the underside of the crossbar as desperate defenders tried to put him under pressure.
A poor first half was dominated by the Owls, who adapted better to a playing surface that you would have been more likely to find at your local beach. Symons made five changes from the side hammered 5-1 by Bournemouth with Michael Turner making his debut at the heart of the defence and Jazz Richards and Kostas Stafylidis picked at full back and Tim Hoogland on the right side of midfield.
Marcus Bettinelli made a smart save from Chris Maguire whilst Stevie May – on as a first half substitute – saw a header cleared off the line and then somehow shot tamely at the Fulham goalkeeper with the goal gaping from eight yards out. May did finally put the hosts in front after the break nodding in a Lewis McGugan cross after the visitors had failed to clear a corner. Fulham, whose best first half opening was wasted by Ross McCormack, had to hang on for dear life as Richards cleared a Atdhe Nuhiu header and Bettinelli brilliantly saved from Marnick Vermijl.
They fashioned only half chances in response. Claude Dielna blocked a goalbound drive from Hoogland, before Symons sent on Cauley Woodrow and Seko Fofana in search of an equaliser. The changes worked with Woodrow finding Tunnicliffe in the area. The industrious midfielder looked to have been fouled in the box but the referee waved play on and he somehow smuggled the ball to Smith whilst on the floor – with the striker making a tricky finish appear straightforward.
The equaliser galvanised Fulham, who might well have stolen all three points in the closing stages. Keiren Westwood blocked a Smith shot after the former Leeds man had been played in by Scott Parker, whilst McCormack grazed the crossbar with a free-kick as time ticked away. The visitors had to settle for a point, which takes them up to twentieth in the table.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Westwood; Palmer (Vermijl 29), Helen, Dielna, Lees; McGugan, Hutchinson, Maguire (Maghoma 90+1), Lee; Nuhiu, Keane (May 42). Subs (not used): Kirkland, Buxton, Mattock, Melo.
BOOKED: Vermijl, Lee.
GOAL: May (54).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Bettinelli; Richards, Stafilydis, Turner, Hutchinson; Parker, Tunnicliffe, Hoogland (Woodrow 69), Kavanagh (Fofana 70); Smith, McCormack. Subs (not used): Kiraly, Bodurov, Grimmer, Roberts, Rodallega.
GOAL: Smith (75).
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer (Northamptonshire).