Fulham 1 – 1 Sunderland. Fulham fought back to earn a replay as they avoided a shock FA Cup fourth-round defeat at home to Championship play-off hopefuls Sunderland.
Jack Clarke’s early goal looked to have put a youthful Black Cats side on course for a memorable win in west London, with the winger capitalising on Issa Diop’s mistake to win the ball before calmly placing his effort past home goalkeeper Marek Rodak.
However, the hosts, who enjoyed the majority of possession, levelled things up just after the hour mark with captain Tom Cairney superbly evading two challenges before picking his spot in the left corner.
In a dramatic conclusion, 15-year-old Chris Rigg looked to have scored the winner for the visitors but his goal was ruled out with Abdoullah Ba off-side in the build-up, while Willian’s effort for the hosts was tipped over.
Sunderland had looked capable of reaching the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2015 – when they were a top-flight club – for much of the contest.
However, a draw was probably a fair reflection of an end-to-end encounter which saw both sides create some excellent goalscoring opportunities.
While Fulham made seven changes to their starting line-up, they still showed plenty of fluency with the ball – albeit a lack of finishing prowess when it mattered.
Tosin Adarabioyo headed over from five yards and Harry Wilson spent much of the afternoon engaged in a personal duel with Anthony Patterson, with the Sunderland goalkeeper denying him on four occasions.
Andreas Pereira’s volley was brilliantly cleared off the line by visiting defender Dan Ballard and it looked like it might end up as a frustrating afternoon until Cairney’s composed intervention.
Aleksandar Mitrovic went close after coming on and fellow substitute Willian saw a fizzing effort tipped over with virtually the last kick of a frenetic encounter.
“It was a typical FA Cup match,” said Fulham manager Marco Silva. “It was too open for a manager to like and we gave a goal too early. We created enough chances to score but gave them more chances than we would like.”
Sunderland more than played their part in a what felt like a throwback match, with both sides appearing to show little caution as they pursued goals.
Amad Diallo and the influential Patrick Roberts typically came to the fore for Tony Mowbray’s side which contained seven players aged 22 or younger at kick-off.
A superb Roberts run down the right ended with Diallo driving a near-post effort wide and the on-loan Manchester United winger also forced Rodak into two fine saves at the start of the second period prior to Fulham’s equaliser.
Pierre Ekwah and Roberts both had late chances and the only major disappointment for Mowbray was the first-half loss of their injured top scorer Ross Stewart, who was stretchered off with a suspected Achilles injury.
“A team of kids came to a team that are flying in the Premier League and gave a good account of themselves,” said Mowbray.
“I am proud. They beat Chelsea here a couple of weeks ago. Our number nine went off. If Ross [Stewart] stayed on the pitch there is a fair chance some of those chances would have fallen to him and he would have finished them. We created some amazing chances.”
source – BBC