Preston 1-1 Fulham: Marco Silva’s side drop two points in their promotion chase after Ched Evans’ controversial equaliser for the hosts following a Tim Ream opener at Deepdale
American defender Tim Ream gave table-topping Fulham the lead on 15 minutes But Preston sub Ched Evans forced ball over the line from a corner to equalise Fulham felt there was a handball as Evans scored but had to settle for just a draw
VAR is not universally popular in the Premier League, but Fulham lived to regret not having it in the Championship as their promotion push was held up in the wind at Deepdale.
They were holding on to a slender lead when in the 72nd minute, Preston substitute Ched Evans bundled in an equaliser from Ben Whiteman’s corner.
The protests from Fulham were vehement though, and with good reason as Evans’ initial header had struck the hand of team-mate Emil Riis Jakobsen before it was put in at the second attempt.
American defender Tim Ream (second right) scored the opener for Fulham after 15 minutes
The centre-half turned in Jean Michael Seri’s ball in from close range to give his side the lead
Match Facts: Preston v Fulham
Preston (3-4-1-2): Iversen; van den Berg, Lindsay, Hughes (Cunningham 90+4); Barkhuizen (Storey 53), McCann, Whiteman, Earl; Browne; Maguire (Evans 60), Jakobsen.
Subs not used: Hudson; Ledson, Johnson, Sinclair.
Goals: Evans 72.
Yellow cards: van den Berg 26, Evans 79.
Manager: Frankie McAvoy.
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, Adarabioyo, Ream, Robinson; Seri (Onomah 68), Reed; Wilson, Carvalho (Knockaert 82), Kebano (Decordova-Reid 68); Mitrovic.
Subs not used: Gazzaniga; Tete, Hector, Muniz.
Goals: Ream 15.
Yellow cards: Robinson 48, Onomah 80.
Manager: Marco Silva.
But without the option of television replays to examine it, the goal stood. It may have been controversial, but the point was merited by Preston as they fought back from conceding an early goal.
It was the second game in the space of three days in which Fulham had given up points and it was an atypically disjointed performance in which the Championship’s top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to fire.
They had toiled for 90 minutes without finding the net against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County on Wednesday night, but it looked like business as usual was going to resume when they scored here after 15 minutes.
The Cottagers had already monopolised the ball and won a number of corners before they prised open the home defence with only a quarter of an hour gone.
Jean Michael Seri delivered a free-kick on the right-hand side, of which Trent Alexander-Arnold would have been proud, as it fizzed into the corridor of uncertainty and Fulham captain Tim Ream could steer it into the net from less than six yards.
Mitrovic’s 21 goals have obviously dominated their early charge, but Ream became the 12th different player to score for the league leaders, showing there is a threat throughout the side.
They appeared comfortable but Riis Jakobsen nearly knocked them out of their stride as the Danish striker robbed Antonee Robinson. He cut into the area, but his effort was deflected just beyond the near post.
With 12 goals to his name this season, Riis Jakobsen carried the most obvious threat for North End and he was causing problems again as he peeled off to the back post, but there were no takers for his dangerous ball across the area.
Robinson was then living dangerously moments after the restart when he was caught out by Tom Barkhuizen and took the man out with a strong challenge just outside the box, but after a long wait while Barkhuizen had treatment, the left-back escaped with a yellow card.
But home substitute Ched Evans (pictured left) bundled in to equalise with 20 minutes left
The striker forced the ball home from a Ben Whiteman corner; Fulham felt there was a handball
That galvanised the home team, for whom Riis Jakobsen remained their biggest threat. After taking a long throw, he was testing Marek Rodak with a low drive from 20 yards.
Preston had penned the visitors in their own half and they had their reward through Evans and Riis Jakobsen’s hand. Suddenly Marco Silva’s men had to up their game, but the damage had been done and they failed to find a winner.
But with none of the chasing pack appearing capable of putting together a meaningful winning run, the Londoners should not be overly concerned as they put another point on the board.