Our Europa League group campaign got off to a start with the honours shared with the Dutch side FC Twente.
Martin Jol has, before the tie started, inferred that he would be rotating his squad and that proved to be just the case. With Aaron Hughes out injured and with Philippe Senderos not quite fit the back four saw the introduction of our recent signing, from Juventus, Grygera and young full back Matthew Briggs. In midfield there was a start for Kasami whilst up front Johnson and Dembele were given the job of testing the Dutch side`s defence.
Just before kick off, Martin Jol had this to say about his team selection,
‘I still feel we have a strong team but we have to make changes when we have three games in seven days. Hopefully, we will be strong enough to get a result. FC Twente are a very good footballing team so we have to try to make things difficult for them.’
In front of a crowd of under 15,000, it was our opponents who got the match under way. Twente began positively and carved out the first half chance with Ola John being afforded far too much room before seeing his weakfish effort saved.
Fulham`s response was to see Dempsey force the Dutch sides` keeper, Mihailov, into a decent save low down. Nineteen minutes into the game Fulham took the lead courtesy of a strike from Andrew Johnson.
The goal was something of a gift though with the Twente defender, Tiendalli, playing a poor pass that Johnson latched onto before slotting past the keeper from an acute angle.
Fulham 1Twente 0 (Johnson – 19 minutes)
Twente responded by keeping possession well but without carving out any serious chances. In fact Fulham could have doubled their lead but Murphy was unable to steer Hangeland`s chip anywhere but the side-netting.
As the half progressed, Schwarzer was forced into his first save in anger by keeping out a diving header from De Jong. The Australian was then forced into a save to keep out a low shot from Janssen, but the pressure from FC Twente was to get them level, although the goal came about in fortunate circumstances.
The Dutch side broke quickly down the right and a cross deflected off of Sidwell`s head to be met by De Jong. His header hit the woodwork, hit Schwarzer on the back and nestled in the net.
Fulham 1Twente 1 (Schwarzer (og) – 41 minutes)
Half Time – Fulham 1 Twente 1
Fulham started the second half well with a Dempsey header that flashed wide. Keeping the tempo up, Twente survived two Fulham penalty appeals when Johnson and Dempsey both thought they`d been fouled and when Mihaylov saved a shot from Johnson, you started to think the Dutch side was living a charmed life.
Dempsey was the next to test the keeper with a strike before Jol hooked off Johnson and introduced Bobby Zamora. But halfway through the half the impetus appeared to wane with one last effort, late on, seeing a cross from Grygera evading everyone.
Not the best of starts and suddenly fortress Craven Cottage is struggling to provide us with a win!
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