Brighton 0-0 Fulham: Alphonse Areola stars in goal for visitors as draw specialists play out stalemate on south coast to leave Seagulls five points clear of relegation zone
- Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola denied Brighton on numerous occasions
- But it’s now nine Premier League games without a victory for Scott Parker’s side
- Brighton are yet to record a victory at home this season and 14 games overall
- The west Londoners remain in 18th – five points adrift of 17th-placed Brighton
- Another relegation battle to come for Fulham, who face West Brom on Saturday
In the minutes before this pivotal clash, a thick mist gathered in the South-Coast sky.
By the end, the skies had largely cleared but the fog engulfing these two sides shows few signs of dissipating.
With this point, Brighton remain the right side of that dotted line – one place and five points clear of Fulham in 18th.
Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola put in numerous vital saves for the side to keep it goalless
And for 90-plus minutes Graham Potter will rue that the gap was not more comfortable.
But then, with virtually the last kick off the game, his captain Lewis Dunk stretched out along his own goal-line to keep out Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s goalbound shot.
How vital could that prove in this race to beat the drop?
Fulham hardly deserved three points but for half a second that’s exactly what hung in the air.
Instead their winless run stretches to nine. For Albion, another game in which they did everything but hit the barndoor means they have gone 14 home games without victory.
That failure to turn dominance into goals has been a perennial problem all season. Here it so nearly cost them. In the first half, particularly, they wasted chance after chance. In one extraordinary seven-minute spell, Albion should have moved out of sight.
Brighton striker Neal Maupay (left) had a brilliant chance to make it 1-0 in the 70th minute
Leandro Trossard was particularly profligate, wasting two clear openings – first after Tosin Adarabioyo’s error allowed Neal Maupay in behind, then after Aina’s risky cross-field pass was intercepted.
Fulham had Alphonse Areola to thank for keeping them on terms and soon the keeper was again required, this time to keep out Lewis Dunk’s header.
By now, it was wave after wave– Trossard sent a devilish low cross beyond everyone and then Maupay shot too close to Areola as Brighton bodies piled forward.
Fulham were floundering but somehow Brighton allowed them up for air. Remarkably, Parker’s side could have snatched the lead, had Ivan Cavaleiro’s shot not snuck wide after a promising counter.
It was a sign the visitors had weathered the worst of the storm and so it proved.
Instead, after the break, both sides provided more evidence of why they hover so perilously close to that trap door.
Cavaleiro fluffed another half-chance, trickling a shot straight at Sanchez. At the other end, Trossard had a volley blocked shortly before a quick free-kick brought Brighton’s clearest opening of the half.
Alexis Mac Allister’s flick put Maupay through on goal, only for his shot to fly over.
By the end, Fulham appeared to be hanging on once more. Maupay and Solly March were denied by desperate defending before Dunk found his own vital clearance.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek looks up in despair as his shot was cleared off the line in the final minute
BRIGHTON (3-4-2-1): Sanchez 6; White 6, Dunk 7, Webster 6.5; Veltman 6.5, Gross 7, Bissouma 6.5, March 6.5; Trossard 7, Mac Allister 7 (Propper 83, 6); Maupay 6
Subs not used: Connolly, Lallana, Moder, Alzate, Tau, Zeqiri, Walton, Burn
Yellow: Bissouma, Mac Allister
Manager: Graham Potter 6.5
FULHAM (3-4-3): Areola 7, Aina 7, Andersen 6, Tosin 5; Tete 6.5 (Bryan 79, 6), Zambo Anguissa 7, Reed 6 (Lemina 66, 6), De Cordova-Reid 6; Loftus-Cheek 6.5, Cavaleiro 6 (Mitrovic 79), Lookman 6
Subs not used: Hector, Kebano, Mitrovic, Rodak, Ream, Bryan, Onomah, Kamara
Manager: Scott Parker 6.5
Ref: Craig Pawson 6.5
Pressure mounts for Fulham Head Coach Scott Parker, whose side haven’t won in nine matches
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