Fulham 2-2 Blackburn: Cottagers denied top-six spot late on
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 15/03/17 2:06pm
Lucas Joao struck deep into stoppage time to secure a 2-2 draw for Blackburn at play-off chasing Fulham.
Joao's finish extended Blackburn's unbeaten run under new manager Tony Mowbray to six games and moved the club out of the bottom three in the Championship.
Fulham had looked on course to claim the victory that would move them into the top six when substitute Gohi Cyriac scored his first goal for the club five minutes from time after connecting with Ruan Fredericks' cross.
That came shortly after Craig Conway had cancelled out Sone Aluko's 45th-minute opener when he converted from the penalty spot in the 76th minute after Tomas Kalas had brought down Marvin Emnes.
Fulham made one change to the side that beat Newcastle so emphatically on Saturday, with Fredericks returning at right-back in place of Denis Odoi.
For Blackburn, Sam Gallagher and Charlie Mulgrew both failed late fitness tests on the hamstring strains that kept them out of the weekend draw at Norwich.
Conway did return, however, having missed the trip to Carrow Road to attend the birth of his daughter and took his place on the left-hand flank in place of Liam Feeney.
Fulham's win at Newcastle had confirmed Slavisa Jokanovic's side as one of the form teams in the division and they immediately took the game to the visitors.
Ryan Sessegnon, the 16-year-old who scored twice on Saturday, was once again employed in an advanced position on the Fulham left and was quickly involved as the home side attempted to make their early pressure felt.
But it was striker Aluko who had the best chance in the opening exchanges, with the Cottagers' forward unfortunate to see a close-range effort deflected wide after being set up by Tim Ream's header.
There were more signs the visitors may be beginning to crack when centre-back Darragh Lenihan's mistake gifted Fulham a corner and the defender was relieved to see Tom Cairney fire over the bar from the set-piece.
Jokanovic's side had lacked a cutting edge, though, so they were relieved to see Aluko connect with Stefan Johansen's cross on the stroke of half-time.
However, Blackburn responded well after the break and applied plenty of pressure before Conway eventually got the chance to level from the penalty spot.
Fulham appeared crushed, but responded positively when Cyriac, who has yet to start a game for the Cottagers, matched Aluko's earlier finish.
Blackburn deserved a share of the spoils, though, and got their reward when Joao dramatically turned home Derrick Williams' cross.
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic:
"It's frustrating but it's a part of the competition, we have scored many times in the last moments of games. In the first half we dominated and scored the goal. Second half we didn't dominate the game, we didn't control them and at the end we made some mistakes.
"And at the end we didn't stop the cross, they scored - and it's not easy to always score three goals to win the game. We didn't have enough experience to kill the game when we scored the second goal, we tried but then we gave them the chance to come back.
"We lost two points, we have one point more. There are nine games in front of us. You cannot be satisfied when you concede the goal but we lost a chance for now. We're going to fight to be in this top six at the beginning of May. We have to keep going and push hard."
Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray:
"I think there's a decent group of footballers there, they have galvanised themselves into a group that refuse to get beaten. We've had different types of games, we've been in front and had to hang on and dig in, we've had games where we've had to go chasing a game. The desire not to lose is huge.
"I think the choices from the bench are really good. There's a group of 18 players who can all impact the first team. I've enjoyed it immensely. I hope they're enjoying the different messages they get and how I construct a football team."