The result was perhaps foreseeable, but nonetheless disheartening. Yet, for all the predictability in bearing witness to another Fulham draw, there were a few surprises thrown in the mix for good measure when Blackburn Rovers visited Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon.
The match itself lasting over 100 minutes is a fact well overshadowed by the surprisingly resilient display by one Stephen Kelly, a right back so far out in the perimeter over recent months that he probably has a label for his chair on the bench. The Irishman, still a stalwart at international level, eagerly distanced himself from a perception that he is not only mistake-prone, but wholly second rate.
Add the lackluster performance from debutant Bryan Ruiz as well as the damning injury bestowed upon Junior Hoilett, and you have yourself a match that, whilst packing a suitable punch, takes you on a roller-coaster ride from the sublime to the ridiculous that probably wasn't worth the ceaseless queueing.Fulham undoubtedly started the brighter, with former Rovers man Damien Duff causing a seemingly boundless list of problems for Gael Givet on the left hand side of Paul Robinson's defence. Cross after cross was delivered, although to no avail, as Givet struggled to cope with Duff's consistently astute ball control. Little did Duff know, however, that Givet would prove the hero come afternoon's end.
The match fluctuated and both sides created little, as Aaron Hughes was taken off the field of play after suffering a knock. Kelly was his early-match replacement and the right back was competent to the very end.
Soon after, Bobby Zamora was almost gifted a perfect return to the starting line-up as Blackburn defender Scott Dann offered the striker the ball. The Englishman was then felled by full back Michel Salgado, but no compensation was given by referee Howard Webb, who was himself under intense pressure all match long.
Fulham manager Martin Jol will have felt hard done by after the decision, but more so with Blackburn's opening goal. Arguably against the run of play, Ruben Rochina opened the scoring with a sublime finish which left Mark Schwarzer all but helpless, as it hit the bar and then subsequently crossed the line. Steve Kean's Barcelona acquisition is already proving useful.
Much to Fulham's credit, however, only six minutes passed before Bobby Zamora levelled the tie. Givet was again outclassed on the left flank as Zamora out muscled his man and finished with divine accuracy, striking the post as Robinson flapped.
The second half brought no goals but offered substantial controversy. Jol failed to cover up a dismal debut from Bryan Ruiz in removing the Costa Rican at half time. Plying his trade on the left wing in the first half, Ruiz looked incapable of forethought and regularly lost the ball. Whether Premier League adaptation will help, only time will tell. Moussa Dembele was his replacement and proved to be the most influential and probably most abundantly talented player on the field.
From the offset, the Belgian was sharp and almost unnervingly composed with the ball at his feet. Steve Kean's men struggled to detach the ball from Dembele for the remainder of the game, but even with Fulham's pleasing play and flattering possession statistics, Paul Robsinson was rarely threatened until the dying moments of the game.
As Blackburn defended admirably, substitute Andrew Johnson provided an extra dimension to The Cottagers' play. A decent shot from Clint Dempsey, who looked majestic throughout the ninety minutes, was met with similar aplomb from Robinson who saved neatly.
Blackburn could only counter attack in the closing minutes but it was such movement that caused Schwarzer and his defence a moment to hastily forget. As Stephen Kelly made his only error of the game, Australian Schwarzer was left to clean up the mess and clashed heads with Blacburn's Junior Hoilett in the process. Both men hit the ground but Hoilett had clearly received the greater punishment, finishing the game on a stretcher.
All the waiting and all the anticipation from the Putney End as Rovers fans begged for a late winner was fruitless, however, as the resulting free kick was cleaned up by the now pantomime enemy number one Mark Schwarzer.
Perhaps the final few seconds just about summed the game up perfectly, then. Eventful, yet bleak.