Both sides had their chances and both will rue not taking them as the opening fixture spluttered to a goalless draw.
Having already played six competitive games, Martin Jol took his squad into this fixture very well prepared. The starting eleven had an accomplished and solid look about it with new signing, Jon Arne Riise, making his Fulham Premier League debut. On the bench was another rof Jol`s summer acquisitions, Kasami.
Fulham – Schwarzer, Senderos, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora
Subs – Etheridge, Kelly, Sidwell, Baird, Kasami, Briggs, Dembele
The first half was to remain goalless. Fulham were to have the greater share of possession but Aston Villa were to create the greater share of the chances.
Jon Arne Riise could have made a dream start to his Fulham Premier League career, but after being played in with a neat ball his shot was sent over the bar with time and space on his side.
Villa had previously troubled Fulham when Villa debut boy, Charles N`Zogbia, delivered a dangerous free kick that Richard Dunne couldn`t quite get on the end of.
Heskey then began to become prominent, out-muscling Hangeland, latching onto a long ball from Richard Dunne but his attempted chip was poor and Schwarzer easily claimed it.
Villa then thought they`d scored when Heskey put Bent clear and the striker finished neatly only to see the offside flag up. Fulham were continuing to have more of the possession but were not troubling the Villa goal.
The opposition continued to pepper the Fulham goal and Petrov saw a long range shot go over and Collins headed over when he got his head to a ball from N`Zogbia.
Five minutes before the break Given was finally forced into a save when Johnson cut inside but he shot was straight at the keeper and any opportunity had passed.
Half Time – Fulham 0 Aston Villa 0
Martin Jol appeared to have stirred the troops up during the break as the team looked a little sharper at the start of the second half.
In fact we could have been celebrating an early goal but for a good save from Shay Given who produced a good reaction save to deny Bobby Zamora who met a cross from Damien Duff with some style.
Given then produced an easier save to deny Zamora again when a header was on target and the Irish keeper finished off a hat-trick of second half saves to deny Zamora again when the England striker controlled a ball from Danny Murphy with the keepers legs coming to the rescue.
After the early flurry though the match slipped back into a pattern similar to that of the first half whereby possession was the name of the game. But, with fifteen or so minutes left Villa could have snatched all three points.
The chance came after Bent and Heskey combined a fierce shot from Albrighton went just the wrong side of the post.
Two points lost was the consensus of opinion as I trudged home with the Fulham support.
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