FULHAM 1-1 BURTON ALBIONBurton Albion were denied a first away win of the season in the dying second of the game at Craven Cottage as the hosts fought back from Jackson Irvine's fourth goal of the season to snatch a share of the points through youngster Ryan Sessegnon.
The lively winger was on hand to poach a rebound after Jon McLaughlin saved Sone Aluko's powerful effort three minutes into added time just when it looked like the Brewers had done enough to seal all three points after repelling the Fulham attack for long periods. Irvine had stunned the vast majority of those inside the Cottage when he calmly stroked home from the edge of the box on 51 minutes and it looked for a long while like being the winner. The home side had dominated the first half and must have wondered how they were not in front at the break and to then find themselves behind left them with a mountain to climb. Sessegnon, a thorn in Albion's side all through the night on the left was the man to rescue things for Slavisa Jokanovic's side and leave Albion cursing their luck at the death.
With centre back and stand-in captain Kyle McFadzean starting a three match ban for an off the ball incident at Wolves on Saturday manager Nigel Clough was forced into changes for the trip to Craven Cottage. A change in formation followed with 4-4-2 the preferred option. Jackson Irvine dropping in at right back and Tom Naylor partnering John Brayford at the heart of the defence, Damien McCrory getting his first Championship start of the campaign. Hamza Choudhury slotted in on the right hand side of midfield, Lucas Akins missing out through a knock picked up on Saturday, with Lee Williamson paired with Matty Palmer in the middle and Lloyd Dyer taking up a more accustomed left wing role. Stuart Beavon got the nod up front to partner Chris O'Grady.
Both sides traded early corners in search of the perfect start to the game but it was Fulham who almost made the breakthrough on five minutes. A quick break down the right for the hosts worked a good opening for Sone Aluko. Jinking inside for a better angle he cracked in a low shot that was eventually cleared with McLaughlin doing well to make the initial save, helped out by McCrory in clearing the danger.
Lloyd Dyer then led a one man breakout to try and hit Fulham on the counter but his final shot was somewhat wayward it has to be said.
Albion had injury concerns as early as the tenth minute when Beavon was involved in a heavy challenge that required the attention of Nick Fenton. It seemed to be a back problem but the experienced striker was able to return. He was clearly ok to continue, hitting a rising drive that Fulham keeper David Button plucked out of the air above his head after Chris O'Grady had cut out a sloppy pass in the home defence.
Fulham were looking dangerous on both flanks and the pacy Ryan Sessegnon got around Irvine to scamper away down the left, a teasing low cross just evading the lunging Chris Martin on the edge of the six yard box as the hosts threatened once again.
Sessegnon was released down the left once more on 20 minutes after some patient passing in the Fulham midfield. This time it was Brayford who got there to make a solid connection to put the ball back across McLaughlin's goal and out for a corner.
Tom Cairney spurned a superb opportunity to give the hosts on 22 minutes as the pressure continued to build. Having cut inside Naylor once to create a shooting chance for himself he inexplicably tried to go past his man again in the outside allowing the Burton defence to recover. Sessegnon then found room inside the box for a shot himself but McLaughlin had his angles right and was able to grab the ball at the second attempt.
With more play coming down the Burton right Williamson and Irvine swapped positions to try and block up the flow of attacks. The pressure was relentless and a swinging corner to the back post was met by the head of Tomas Kalas who watched on as the ball flew agonsinigly back through the six yard box without anyone getting a decisive touch to it.
Albion eventually managed to get their foot on the ball and take the sting out of some of the Fulham threat. Beavon again provided a threatening moment with a volleyed effort from distance that initially looked like it might loop over Button but was eventually a relatively comfortable save for the Fulham keeper.
The home side finished the half on top but Clough's men were able to comfortably repel them in what remained of the opening 45 minutes. The question was whether they could hold out for a second period or maybe snatch what looked an unlikely victory.
Half time: Fulham 0-0 Burton Albion
For the second half Albion made a switch with the introduction of Ben Turner. Damien McCrory was the man who failed to reappear and the change gave the opportunity to switch, at times to the more recognised 3-5-2 formation. after settling into the half with some controlled passing Albion stunned their hosts by taking the lead on 51 minutes. Matty Palmer worked hard on the right and found Beavon inside the box with something of a mishit cross. The experienced striker held the ball up superbly laying the ball perfectly into the path of IRVINE to stroke the ball beyond the outstretched hand of Button.
Tom Cairney was looked one of the classiest players on the night for Fulham but when he worked room for a curling left footer on 59 minutes it was an effort that failed to trouble McLaughlin who was able to watch the ball go comfortably past his right hand post.
The hour mark came and went with Albion in front but Clough opted to make his second change with some fresh legs up front in the shape of Jamie Ward. He replaced Beavon to partner O'Grady in attack.
There were momentary concerns for Turner as McLaughlin took him out with a sliding challenge inside the box but the big defender was quickly back on his feet.
Fulham were soon making their first change and it was Matt Smith called into action to pep up the home attack with livewire winger Neeskens Kebano the man to make way.
Brayford came to Albion's rescue on 65 minutes with a superbly timed challenge deep inside the Burton penalty area as his former Derby team mate Chris Martin shaped to shoot after running on to a lobbed pass over the Brewers defence.
Fulham were becoming increasingly frustrated and when Aluko cut inside and hit an ambitious left footer the moans of the home faithful were palpable as McLaughlin made a comfortable save.
The home side tried another break down the right with fifteen to go and although it didnt cost Albion a goal it did cost the Brewers the services of Turner for the next game against Brighton. The big defender made a grab for Aluko as he tried to speed away and it didnt evade the eye of referee Robinson who produced a yellow card - Turner's fifth of the campaign so far.
Fulham took off Martin and midfield playmaker Kevin McDonald and sent on Floyd Ayite and Jozebed with twelve minutes to go in a last throw of the dice for the Londoners.
Ragnar Sigurdsson became the second name in referee Robinson's book on 81 minutes for climbing all over O'Grady as they challenged for a high clearance.
Ward was inches away from stunning the home side with a second for Albion on 83 minutes. A long ball forward found the Forest loanee beyond the last defender but from wide on the right of the area he hooked his shot across Button and just past the post.
Jozabed had a chance to lash in an equaliser for Fulham with pretty much his first touch but from the edge of the area his volley comfortably cleared the bar.
A stoppage for an injury to Ayite led to six minutes of added time being signalled and early on in the added time Ward picked up a yellow card for a lunging challenge on Kalas.
Just as Albion had struck late to pick up a late equaliser at Wolves on Saturday it was Fulham's turn this time. Cairney exploited space down the right and crossed in for Aluko. The striker's effort was parried away by McLaughlin but SESSEGNON was on hand to gleefully smash home the rebound three minutes into the added allocation.
To ensure their hard earned point Albion sent on Shaun Barker again for the closing moments. It was all hands to the pumps, especially when Fulham were awarded a late free kick twenty five yards out when Irvine clattered into Cairney, the Cottagers midfielder picking himself up to curl the set piece just over the bar.
Another battling performance had yielded what could be another crucial point for Albion but it could have been so much more if Albion could have held out.