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West Bromwich Albion vs Fulham. Sky Bet Championship.

The Hawthorns.

West Brom 0-0 Fulham: Slaven Bilic's Baggies held to frustrating stalemate at The Hawthorns

Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash at The Hawthorns

Dan Long

Tuesday 14 July 2020 23:38, UK

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between West Brom and Fulham

West Brom's grip on an automatic promotion spot loosened as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Fulham.

It was the Baggies who perhaps had the better opportunities to break the deadlock in a cagey encounter at The Hawthorns, though both sides spurned second-half openings as Grady Diangana prodded wide inside the six-yard box and Anthony Knockaert hit the crossbar with a rasping effort.

While the result all but puts hopes of automatic promotion beyond the reach of Fulham, West Brom remain in control of their own destiny and two wins from the remaining two games against Huddersfield and QPR will secure safe passage back to the Premier League.

However, the gap between themselves and third-placed Brentford - who are seeking an eighth successive victory when they meet Preston at Griffin Park on Wednesday - could narrow to just a point with victory for the west London side.

How the Baggies were frustrated on their own patch

Matheus Pereira and Josh Onomah in action during West Brom vs Fulham
Image: Matheus Pereira and Josh Onomah in action during West Brom vs Fulham

Fulham were the better settled of the two and created the game's first chance when Ivan Cavaleiro kept a cross alive and sent a looping header over Sam Johnstone. All that was required for the opener was the faintest of touches, yet Ahmed Hegazi brilliantly intervened to slide in and clear the danger.

The drinks break changed the direction of the momentum midway through the first half, as Baggies full-back Dara O'Shea created something from nothing with his side growing into the game. He rampaged down the right flank and hit a cross that looked destined to creep in at the near post, but Marek Rodak was alert to push the ball behind.

Though level with Brentford's Ollie Watkins at the top of the Championship scoring charts, Aleksandar Mitrovic was kept quiet relatively quiet. The Serbian frontman nodded wide from two corners on the stroke of half time but lacked service and took just three touches in the opposition penalty area throughout the 90 minutes.

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As is so often the case, Brazilian winger Matheus Pereira was at the centre of everything for the hosts and he grew in influence, sending two sensational crosses across the six-yard box that went unchallenged, though two free-kicks failed to trouble Fulham.

With just over 20 minutes to play, Diangana steered round the far post with the goal at his mercy after a cross had been flicked into his path, while the largely anonymous Knockaert thundered a shot off the top of the crossbar shortly after.

And there was almost late drama when West Brom appealed for a penalty after substitute Hal Robson-Kanu fell inside the penalty area after collecting a pass from Callum Robinson, but referee Geoff Eltringham correctly waved play on.

Man of the match - Jake Livermore

Comfortable as ever in the middle of the park alongside Romaine Sawyers, Livermore didn't have an awful lot to deal with after a fairly bland attacking display from the Cottagers, but his passing was excellent nonetheless.

"Our goal hasn't changed," he told Sky Sports after the final whistle. "In a peculiar season, our target still remains and we're going to give it our very, very best shot, that's all we can do."

What the managers said...

3:07
Slaven Bilic was proud of his side's performance and felt they created more than enough chances to have won the game.

West Brom's Slaven Bilic: "Everything is in our hands. We started the restart a bit slower, were a bit unlucky in first couple of games but after that, in last five games, we are creating and dominating. We are in good form, playing good football. That's where I have my optimism and belief.

"I'm very proud with the way we played. We defended well and in the second half we kept the shape and composure and created more than enough chances. We just couldn't score but the composure, mentality, passion and quality made me really proud. It would be better if we had won the game of course but it's one game less to go and it's in our hands. There is no point watching it (Brentford), it will only make me nervous, I'm going to be big Preston fan of course."

3:05
Scott Parker felt Fulham missed their attacking players during their 0-0 draw away at West Brom but praised the effort his players showed.

Fulham's Scott Parker: "It'll be difficult. We need to be focused, we're five unbeaten and it's a fourth clean sheet, we need to stay focused on the journey. We came to win the game and keep the pressure on. Up until the drinks break was perfect. The longer the game goes on it becomes a little bit more end to end.

"We tried to change things around a little bit but it didn't happen. The end goal that has been drummed into these players from day one is you're fortunate enough to have the play offs. Our message to the players is that it could be two games left or it could be five."

What's next?

West Brom travel to the John Smith's Stadium to face Huddersfield on Friday evening, in a game live on Sky Sports Football from 5pm. Fulham, meanwhile, host Sheffield Wednesday at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

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