Everton escape Fulham with a point but drop into bottom three

Struggling duo Fulham and Everton fought out a 0-0 Premier League draw at Craven Cottage on Tuesday, with the visitors lucky to escape with a potentially precious point after being under sustained pressure in an all-action second half.

Both teams came into the match on the back of dire league runs and that lack of form showed in a cagey first half when the best chances came via deflections that were cleared off the line at either end.

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It was far livelier after the break, with both teams hitting the woodwork and Everton keeper Jordan Pickford making a brilliant save to keep out a Tosin Adarabioyo header as Fulham produced a series of attacks, but without quite managing the killer final touch.

"I thought the game was a bit flat," Pickford said. "Both teams had to create our own energy and tempo and we could have been on the front foot a bit more, but it's a great point.

"We've had to change a lot, everyone is ready to put on the shirt, put on the badge for the club and do our best, just give 100% and we will get points."

The result, combined with Luton's big victory over Brighton, dragged Everton back into the relegation zone as their 10-point deduction begins to weigh heavily again after initially seeming to spur them into a hot streak before Christmas.

Sean Dyche's Everton are 18th on 18 points from 22 games, a point behind fast improving Luton who have a game in hand.

Fulham, who remain firmly mid-table, had lost four of their last five league games and Everton three of the previous four and both were knocked out of the FA Cup at the weekend.

Both sides' best early chances came via deflections as Everton centre-back James Tarkowski's mis-hit shot pinged off Issa Diop's head against the bar before bouncing onto the line and being hacked clear.

Jarrad Branthwaite of Everton is shown a yellow card during his team's Premier League draw with Fulham.
Jarrad Branthwaite of Everton is shown a yellow card during his team's Premier League draw with Fulham.
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At the other end, a deflected Timothy Castagne shot was cleared off the line by Tarkowski, with Raul Jimenez then slicing wide with the goal gaping.

The game opened up considerably in the second half as Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has not scored since October, hit the bar with a bankable header and Fulham keeper Bernd Leno saved well from Jack Harrison.

A brilliant sliding tackle by Everton's Ben Godfrey took the ball off Willian's toe as he looked set to score and Castagne flicked a header against the bar as Fulham cranked up the pressure.

Pickford then scooped out Tosin's powerful header while in stoppage time Everton's substitute striker Beto missed the best chance of the night when heading over the bar from point-blank range and Godfrey was foiled by Leno in a last-gasp scramble.

After Fulham won 1-0 at Goodison Park in August and then knocked Everton out of the League Cup on penalties after a 1-1 draw there in December, the visiting fans greeted the final whistle with the sort of half-hearted cheer they are getting used to as they gear up for yet another relegation battle.

"It was a ding-dong of a game. If ever there was an exciting nil-nil that was it," said Everton boss Sean Dyche. "Both teams had chances but with a stretched team injury-wise I think we take the point and a clean sheet against a team with a good home record."

Without the points deduction imposed by the Premier League in November Everton would be sitting above Fulham and their appeal against the punishment for breaking profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) rules begins on Wednesday.

"I can't control that. I can only try to control what we do," said Dyche, who has now been in charge for a year. "I think we got back to playing today and we showed the mentality to try to win it and we could have nicked it."

Fulham boss Marco Silva was a frustrated figure after seeing his team unleash 25 shots, but test Pickford on only a handful of occasions.

"I'm disappointed with the result," he said. "Both teams had chances but we were the most dominant and the stats show that - we created many chances and just need to put the ball in the back of the net.

"Sometimes in front of goal we need to be more assertive and sometimes calmer but overall we need to be more clinical."