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By Tom Moore at St Mary’s Stadium
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Premier League: Southampton 2 Fulham 2
Southampton defender Jose Fonte’s 90th minute equaliser denied Fulham a rare away win.
Saints substitute Jos Hooiveld had a nightmare game as he had the final touch to both of the Whites’ goals.
Fulham were flying in the face of history as they had not won in the league at Southampton since 1935 – a year in which Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister of Great Britain for the third and final time and Adolf Hitler announced that he was rearming German troops.
And they had it all to do as a poor start saw the Whites go a goal down after only four minutes as Fonte guided his header home from Adam Lallana’s corner.
Neither of these sides had played out a draw this season but the scores were level with 20 minutes remaining as Jos Hooiveld, on as an eighth minute substitute for Frazer Richardson, deflected John Arne Riise’s powerful shot, that was going fractionally wide, into the roof of his own net.
The visitors looked on course for a rare away win when, with two minutes remaining as Kieran Richardson fired home, thanks to a deflection from Hooiveld.
Yet the lead lasted only a minute as Fonte headed home his second of the game as the two sides did end up finishing on level terms.
Southampton raced out of the blocks with Morgan Schneiderlin dispossessing Chris Baird before firing a rasping shot that went wide with only 17 seconds on the clock.
The Whites were still in the changing room as Rickie Lambert headed wide from Daniel Fox’s corner in only the second minute.
And it was no surprise, two minutes later, that the home side were ahead as Lallana’s corner found Fonte completely unmarked and the defender guided his header into the far corner to give Southampton the lead, despite Aaron Hughes’ best efforts on the line.
But the home side were dealt a major blow when Frazer Richardson had to be stretchered off with Jos Hooiveld replacing him after only eight minutes.
Lambert showed the value of strikers tracking back as he executed a perfect sliding challenge to deny Hughes a shooting opportunity from the six yard box as Southampton reshuffled their back line with Hooiveld partnering Fonte in the middle and Maya Yoshida moving to full back.
However, they weathered the storm and with 17 minutes gone the Saints should have doubled their lead as Jay Rodriguez fed Lambert inside the penalty area but the striker, uncharacteristically, fired wide.
Southampton continued to cause Fulham problems and Jason Puncheon should have done better from six yards as Sascha Riether cleared off the line.
From the next corner the ball was in the back of the net but the Saints forward had tripped Whites goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Just past the half hour mark the Australian made a poor clearance was intercepted in the midfield.
Lallana was fed through but his cross was behind the awaiting Lambert and Rodriguez.
But Schwarzer, who turned 40 on Saturday, showed that he still had the ability to make reflect saves – moving down to his left to block Lambert’s powerful shot.
Southampton goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was forced into making a save for the first time in first-half stoppage time comfortably dealing with Hughes’ header from eight yards.
Riether nearly did hand the Whites an equaliser when his long ball was poorly dealt with by defence and goalkeeper but Hugo Rodallega could not divert the ball home, with it going harmlessly wide as the Saints went into half-time with a lead.
Lambert should have done better five minutes into the second half when he volleyed Schneiderlin’s cross well over the bar.
Rodriguez burst through the Fulham midfield and unleashed a shot which Schwarzer gathered at the second attempt before Rodallega could only put the ball across goal from a narrow angle.
Fulham had their best spell of the game and luck was not on their side as the Southampton goal led a charmed life.
A Duff free kick ricocheted off the post with Maya Yoshida looking as if he had the last touch before a shot from Brede Hangeland hit the Saints defender’s hand, although it was by his side.
Steve Sidwell’s flick-on cannoned off a Southampton defender to give Rodallega a golden opportunity but his header was brilliantly saved by Gazzaniga.
Southampton tried to weather the storm by replacing striker Lambert with forward Guly Do Prado.
But the Whites were level within two minutes of the substitution as John Arne Riise’s shot was turned in by Hooiveld for his second own goal of the season.
Substitute Kieran Richardson, on for Alex Kacaniklic, had a great chance to score but he fired over after a good ball from Riether.
Rodriguez nearly restored the lead for the Saints with four minutes remaining when he headed over from Lallana’s cross.
But the Whites were in dreamland when, with two minutes of normal time remaining Richardson fired home, thanks to a kind deflection of Hooiveld.
The lead lasted two minutes and 26 seconds as Fonte headed home from Fox’s free-kick to level the scores.
Southampton poured forward looking for a winner and Fonte went close from a corner, with Schwarzer punching the ball to safety as the Whites held out.
Southampton: Gazzaniga, Richardson (Hooiveld 8), Yoshida, Fonte, Fox, Schneiderlin, Davis, Lallana, Puncheon (Chaplow 61), Rodriguez, Lambert (Do Prado 67).
Substitutes: Davis, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka, Chaplow, Reeves.
Fulham: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Sidwell (Karagounis 70), Ruiz, Duff, Hughes, Rodallega, Riether, Kacaniklic (Richardson 66).
Substitutes: Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Kasami, Briggs.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.