Fulham survive Swansea battering
Fulham narrowly avoided an FA Cup upset as the Premier League side escaped with a 1-1 draw against Championship giant-killers Swansea City in the fifth round. Roy Hodgson's men were outplayed for long periods and, although they took the lead through a Garry Monk own goal in the first half, it was no surprise when Trinidad and Tobago striker Jason Scotland equalised to earn a replay at Craven Cottage later this month.
That was the least Swansea deserved for some enterprising play and only some desperate defending and the fine form of Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer prevented the hosts reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 1964. Swans manager Roberto Martinez said: "When you play well you want to win, but this was a big test against a Premier League side and, looking at the performance, I'm proud of the players."
Midfielder Leon Britton added: "Over the last 15 to 20 games, we've played like that every week. We're happy with our standards and we've just got to keep that up in the replay."
Martinez's team, who knocked out holders Portsmouth in the last round, are on a 16-match unbeaten run and harbour realistic hopes of winning promotion, so it was no surprise to see that they were quickly into their smooth-passing rhythm. They almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Mark Gower's one-two with Scotland gave him a sight of goal in the box and the left winger slipped his low shot calmly past Australia goalkeeper Schwarzer, only to see it strike the inside of the post.
Swansea were not just good in possession. They constantly harried Fulham in midfield and Gower should have given them the lead in the 25th minute. Angel Rangel's cross from the right picked out Gower at the far post, but his close-range effort went straight to Schwarzer and he was able to parry the ball to safety.
Alan Tate curled an effort from outside the box just over the bar as Swansea continued to dominate. Fulham were struggling to find any momentum but, out of nowhere, the west London team were gifted the lead in the 44th minute. Ashley Williams conceded a corner and Paul Konchesky's harmless delivery was deflected off Monk into his net, as Brede Hangeland challenged.
Even that hammer blow didn't knock Swansea out of their stride and Gower was denied by Schwarzer early in the second half, after Scotland had chested the ball into his path in the Fulham box. Schwarzer produced another superb save to tip-over Scotland's drive, but Swansea's pressure finally told in the 52nd minute. Scotland showed tremendous skill as he received possession in a tight spot and cleverly turned Aaron Hughes before arrowing a low drive past Schwarzer to claim his 12th goal in 12 games.
Rangel burst into the box as Swansea scented a second and Fulham were grateful to get away with a corner, which ended with Tate's shot on the turn held by Schwarzer at his near post. Swansea launched a final assault in the closing minutes and Rangel fired just over the bar. Dyer could have won it, but he fired a good chance into the side-netting.