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Posted on 17 September 2006  - 12:00

It finished all square at the Lane as Fulham stood firm in Sunday's Premiership encounter.

It finished all square at the Lane as Fulham stood firm in Sunday's Premiership encounter.

It was not a chance after chance type of affair and, while there were opportunities to break the deadlock, the game will not live long in the memory.

There were two changes to Martin Jol's starting selection to that which began in the UEFA Cup against Slavia Prague on Thursay. Robbie Keane and Danny Murphy were introduced to the mix, with Jermain Defoe and Tom Huddlestone taking their places on the bench. Fulham were without influential midfielders Papa Bouba Doup and Jimmy Bullard.

Watching the first 15 minutes was similar to viewing a game of pinball, with the ball zapping around with ferocity as both teams sought to establish a foothold in the game.

Murphy was the calming influence in midfield, pulling the strings with the ability to seemingly stroke the ball rather than simply kick it. It was Paul Robinson first on duty though, just about fielding a long-range effort from Collins John before a promising cross from home debut boy Pascal Chimbonda just cleared the head of Mido - the striker similarly on home debut, only for the second time following his permanent switch from Roma.

Keane came close to poaching his first of the season on 21 minutes after Jermaine Jenas gazumped Carlos Bocanegra in the centre circle and sped forward. He slipped the ball through to the restored striker who came a close second to visiting goalkeeper Antti Niemi in making a significant connection.

Mido nearly marked his N17 return with a decent opening of his own making before, on 28 minutes, Teemu Tainio did particularly well to bring the ball out of the sky and drill in a shot that flashed wide of Niemi's left hand upright. Five minutes before the interval Benoit Assou-Ekotto had Niemi in a pickle when he latched onto the second of two superb crosses from Jenas. After leaving his marker motionless the full-back pinged in his shot from the left of the area and the goalkeeper just about managed to block down to his near post.

The game retained its frenetic edge at the beginning of the second period with the main chance from our point of view nearly landing on the head of Mido after Ledley King pushed up to cross from the left. Fulham, however, were not bystanders while all this was going on or lacking in attacking ambition themselves.

Mido struck the frame of the goal from an acute angle with 56 minutes on the clock after Tainio attempted to unlock the gate then Assou-Ekotto fizzed a free-kick over the bar as a result of a Franck Queudrue foul on Didier Zokora.

It was time for the little hitman to make an appearance and he duly stepped forward on 69 minutes as a replacement for Tainio. His impact was almost immediate in a drawing a free-kick from Moritz Volz, but his own effort from the set piece swerved wide.

It was Chimbonda who next nearly troubled the scoreboard with a looping header that visiting sub Heidar Helguson diverted away from the line, moments before Defoe's low piledriver was just wide of Niemi's right hand post.

Edgar Davids came on for Murphy with 11 minutes remaining of normal time, but it was another sub, Tomasz Radzinski, who made the next impact with a stinging drive at Robinson.

Fulham were hanging on in the final minutes and managed to do just that despite the late onslaught. It stayed all square and Fulham made their point.