Saiss Salvages Late Draw For Wolves At Fulham

Saiss Salvages Late Draw For Wolves At Fulham-Surge Zirc
Romain Saiss tapped in for Wolves after Joe Bryan’s slip on the line/Photo credit: BBC

Fulham missed out on just their third Premier League win of the season as Romain Saiss snatched a scrappy late equaliser for Wolves at Craven Cottage.

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The hosts were on top in the first half but striker Aleksandar Mitrovic missed seven chances, while Raul Jimenez went close for the visitors with an acrobatic bicycle kick.

Wolves were more assured after the break, dominating possession but without regularly troubling the Fulham defence.

The introduction of Ryan Sessegnon, who had missed the previous two matches with a groin injury, gave the hosts more attacking impetus and the 18-year-old winger scuffed in a volley after Rui Patricio’s weak punch on 74 minutes.

But the visitors struck 10 minutes later when substitute Ivan Cavaleiro got in down the left to slide the ball across goal, with Fulham wing-back Joe Bryan stopping the ball but then falling over – allowing Saiss to tap in his first Premier League goal.

Mitrovic got in behind from a long, clearing kick by Fulham keeper Sergio Rico on 90 minutes but his deflected, clipped effort was cleared off the line by Conor Coady.

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Wednesday’s draw takes Fulham off the bottom of the table, three points from safety, before Huddersfield – who have replaced them in 20th – face Manchester United at Old Trafford at 15:00 GMT.

The wasteful eight

Mitrovic failed to convert any of his eight chances against Wolves and has now not scored in his past six league appearances, having also had another six-game goalless streak earlier in the season.

The Serbia international became the first player in the Premier League this season to have seven attempts in the first half, but he only got two on target, both of which were too close to Patricio.

It took 25 minutes for the first effort on target by either side in a lifeless start, Mitrovic failing to get enough power on a header at the back post off Cyrus Christie’s cross.

He then picked up a loose ball in the Wolves area, before turning his man and shifting it past another – but his low effort was blocked by Patricio’s legs.

Mitrovic was kept quieter in the second half before missing the most crucial opening of the game – he did well to force his way on to Rico’s clearance but then could not lift his effort over Ryan Bennett’s outstretched leg, with Coady alert to scramble the ball away.

While he causes defences plenty of problems, Mitrovic’s scoring rate of seven goals in the first half of the season is not likely to be enough to keep up a Fulham side that has conceded 43 times.

Improved Fulham still falter

Fulham have now taken six points from seven matches under Claudio Ranieri, one more than they managed in 12 games under predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic this season.

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While perhaps not a seismic improvement, the Italian has made the Cottagers more organised, their defence keeping Wolves to largely speculative efforts for long periods.

The return of Sessegnon is also particularly welcome. His goal was a touch fortunate, deflecting off a Wolves defender and the underside of the crossbar on the way in – but he gave his side renewed vigour after replacing Andre Schurrle on 67 minutes when Wolves were no top.

However, Fulham are still prone to lapses of concentration and Joao Moutinho was given far too much time and space on the ball to turn and slide in an unmarked Cavaleiro before Bryan’s error on the line.

With key matches against fellow relegation candidates Huddersfield and Burnley coming up – as well as tough games against Arsenal and Tottenham – Fulham could well rue missing out on two extra points here come the end of the campaign.

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