Fulham throw away lead: Sunderland 2-2 Fulham

Ian MacNicol

Despite gaining a two goal advantage, Martin Jol's side just couldn't hold on as Stephane Sessegnon won Sunderland a point.

As Martin Jol alluded to after our 2-2 draw with Sunderland on Saturday evening, Fulham just didn't do the business at the Stadium of Light.

They got the hard part right - securing a two goal lead against a side jam-packed with some extremely talented footballers. But creating an advantage and then retaining it are two different things and rely on two different aspects of football.

Of late, we've found scoring difficult and defending has come naturally. We'd scored one goal in the last three games and, with Philippe Senderos performing admirably at centre back, had only conceded once in the same run of three.

It was the form of our Swiss centre back that had warranted his place in the starting line-up here but, with his tug on the shirt of Danny Graham and a subsequent penalty, Sunderland were allowed back into the game.

They capitalised on it too, with Stephane Sessegnon adding another to pull the teams level. He certainly knows how to ruin a Fulham fan's day.

It's not that Fulham were bad, it must be noted. Jol's side attacked with purpose and fervour and though you'd find it hard to argue that the two goal advantage that Dimitar Berbatov and Sascha Riether had won was justifiable, Fulham were certainly value for a lead of some sorts.

But defensive stability seems to come in fits and starts for the whites and that came to haunt them on Wearside. Nevertheless, one point is better than none and it's a draw that lifts us up into the top 10 of the Premier League, albeit seven points below ninth.

Within minutes of the start, Sunderland made their intentions clear with John O'Shea meeting an Adam Johnson cross but, thankfully, with Fulham keen to avoid a diminishing opening, it failed to trouble the unflappable Mark Schwarzer.

On the 15 minute mark, Ashkan Dejagah fell in the area under a tackle from Craig Gardner and, after consideration, Mark Halsey awarded a penalty to Fulham. Berbatov stepped up and did his usual thing - stylishly executing in the coolest way imaginable.

Dejagah, who again was brilliant, had a chance to double the team's advantages after being put through on goal but ended up putting his effort wide with his weaker left foot.

Not to worry, as Sascha Riether seems to know where the goal is. He slotted home his first for the club after a Dejagah shot had been palmed away and the two goal advantage was everything Jol had wished for.

It didn't last long, however. Sunderland got their own penalty thirty-seven minutes in after Senderos' infringement and Gardner stepped up to beat Schwarzer from the spot.

This inspired the home side and the pressure that followed led into the early stages of the second period. Graham had a good chance but could only poke a tame effort at goal that Schwarzer coped with easily.

The ensuing period was frustrating for fans as, again, Fulham were creating chances aplenty but simply weren't converting them. Damien Duff forced a good save from an impressive Simon Mignolet and Berbatov couldn't do much with the rebound.

In an attempt to hold onto the slender 2-1 advantage, Jol introduced Emmanuel Frimpong in the place of Giorgios Karagounis but, though not the fault of Frimpong himself, the tactical shift did not pay dividends.

Sessegnon finished off a fine counter attacking move with a powerful drive and there was an eery sense of inevitability to the goal. Fulham just don't make things easy for themselves.

Both sides then sought to take the initiative but to no avail. Berbatov saw a shot saved and Sunderland continued to push forward to the very end.

They had already done their damage to the following Fulham faithful though, who will doubtlessly travel back to London with the unquestionable taste of defeat in their mouths, despite the point gained.

However unfortunate, though, it's a trait we're becoming ever more accustomed to.

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