Stalemate at the Cottage
Fulham 0-0 West Ham United
Tomáš Souček was sent-off in stoppage time as West Ham United and Fulham played out a 0-0 draw at Craven Cottage on Saturday evening.
The Czech midfielder was handed his marching orders by Mike Dean following a check on the pitchside monitor after catching Aleksandar Mitrović as he tried to escape the Fulham man’s attentions at a free-kick.
The contact was surely accidental, but Dean saw fit to produce the red card as the evening ended on a sour note for the Hammers.
Fulham enjoyed the better of a quiet affair, although it was the Hammers who came closest to grabbing all three points as Vladimír Coufal sent a second half header against the bar.
West Ham made only one change from the side which swept Aston Villa aside in midweek, bringing Jarrod Bowen back into the starting eleven, but it was Fulham who made the brighter start.
Scott Parker’s men enjoyed the better of possession and territory in the opening stages, showing little sign of a side who hadn’t won in the Premier League since November.
They were not able to make full use of the ball, though, with only an Ivan Cavaleiro header four minutes before half-time needing a save from Łukasz Fabiański in that opening period.
That’s not to say the Cottagers were not probing away though, with Declan Rice and Craig Dawson blocking well from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman, while the latter dragged a shot wide of the mark from the edge of the box too.
At the other end Souček slid into the side-netting from a tight angle after Bowen touched on a dangerous Aaron Cresswell cross in the twelfth minute.
Rice also drew a save from Alphonse Areola with a low drive towards the near post from the edge of the box nine minutes later, but in truth there was little to get the pulses racing before referee Dean brought the opening half to a close.
The Cottagers’ big chance arrived eight minutes after the restart, and it was one they really should have taken. West Ham found themselves stretched at the back, and Lookman took advantage, slipping a pass through to Loftus-Cheek inside the box. He dinked over Fabiański as the goalkeeper closed down the angles, but could not direct the shot inside the near post.
David Moyes reacted by introducing Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble from the bench, and his side came so close to opening the scoring on 64 minutes when Coufal attacked a Rice cross with relish at the far post, sending his powerful header against the top of the crossbar on its way over.
Fulham came again in the game’s final quarter, needing more than a point really in their quest to beat the drop, but they were unable to create more than half-chances.
Sub Mitrović fired wide from the edge of the box, while Lookman sent a free-kick off target, but for all the home side pushed, Fabiański didn’t make a serious save all night.
The most controversial moment arrived in stoppage time when Souček saw red after a lengthy VAR check, for what surely was an accidental elbow on Mitrović.
Fulham: Areola, Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson (Maja 79), Lemina (Mitrovic 79), Reed, De Cordova-Reid (Anguissa 83), Loftus-Cheek, Lookman, Cavaleiro
Subs: Rodak (GK), Hector, Ream, Bryan, Aina, Onomah
West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Bowen (Yarmolenko 56), Rice, Souček, Lingard, Benrahma (Noble 56), Antonio (Fredericks 74)
Subs: Martin (GK), Johnson, Diop, Balbuena, Lanzini, Fornals
Booked: Ogbonna, Fabiański, Yarmolenko
Referee: Mike Dean