Wolves 1 – 1 Fulham – Wolves pay the price for cautious approach
At a ground that has seen astonishing victories over Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City so far this season, Fulham's Andy Johnson denied Wolves three vital points with a late equaliser less than thirty seconds after being introduced as a substitute.
The Molineux side started the game knowing a win would lift them free of the relegation zone and as such, they were nervy. Fulham didn't have to force themselves on the game and were instead allowed to take control as the home side struggled to settle down. Carlos Salcido was prominent early on. The rampaging left-back tested Wayne Hennessy before teeing up Clint Dempsey with a first-time cross that the American should have converted.
Given their allowed dominance and the frequency of mistakes being made by Wolves players on the ball, Fulham were always likely to create chances. Only a string of fine saves from Hennessy and a crucial interception from Karl Henry stopped the London side from scoring before they did.
In fact it was Mick McCarthy's side that opened the scoring with their first effort on target, punishing Fulham for failing to capitalise on a strong opening twenty minutes. Steven Fletcher rose above Aaron Hughes for his fifth goal of the season and had Wolves been more positive, the tie may been settled before Johnson was introduced in the 79th minute.
Instead, Wolves were cautious with their lead and invited wave after wave of Fulham pressure. Simon Davies, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Dempsey all went close before Henry denied Moussa Dembele a tap-in inches from the goal line.
Henry had been the focus of special attention from the Fulham support after a challenge from the midfielder resulted in a broken leg for Bobby Zamora the last time the teams met, and at times it looked as though tensions may boil over between the two sides. Referee Michael Oliver kept control of the game and acted swiftly to send Mark Hughes off when the Fulham manager reacted poorly to Brede Hangeland's booking. The Welshman lashed out around his technical area and was promptly sent marching by the official.
With Hughes phoning in his orders, Fulham continued to search for an equaliser before a switch of styles produced immediate dividends. Zamora and Johnson were introduced in quick succession for Dembele and Gudjohnson and the visitors became more direct. A long ball into the area was knocked down by the big man to the feet of Johnson. With time to take the ball out of his feet, Johnson drove the ball beyond Hennessy to break the hearts of the Wanderers players and fans, who were so close to three crucial points.
The home side only had themselves to blame for the two dropped points. Their cagey performance and lack of attacking intent invited a dramatic finish and things could have been much worse had their Welsh 'keeper not been alive to a near-post shot from Fulham’s final substitute, Gael Kakuta.