BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton held promotion-chasing Fulham to a goalless draw on a chilly evening at The Valley.
Visitors Fulham enjoyed plenty of the ball, especially in the first-half, but struggled to carve their way through Charlton’s back-line and found Dillon Phillips in fine form when they did.
The South Londoners grew into the contest as the second-half progressed but will likely be pleased with the point and keeping their first clean sheet since mid-October in the process.
The Addicks are unbeaten in any of the seven occasions in which they’ve played the Championship’s current top five.
The hosts, buoyed by the confirmation shortly before kick-off that boss Lee Bowyer had penned a new three-year deal at The Valley and the return from injury of Josh Cullen, started brightly by forcing a couple of early corners.
Albie Morgan drove one of those set-pieces back into the danger area with interest – goalkeeper Marek Rodak would have been a relieved man as it deflected straight into his arms.
Fulham are known for their high-possession football and he Whites, managed by former Charlton midfielder Scott Parker, set about taking control of the first-period and trying to break down an organised Addicks outfit.
Josh Onomah was able to make space for a shot as he danced his way beyond Darren Pratley only for his shot to be charged down well by Tom Lockyer.
Dillon Phillips repelled a long-range effort from Bobby Decordova-Reid before the same two players were involved again as the Addicks stopper denied the Fulham man from a tight angle.
Joe Bryan fizzed an effort across the face of goal and just wide of the far-stick as the visitors continued to push, before Phillips once again came out on top in his personal battle with Decordova-Reid – denying the midfielder as capitalised on a loose touch from Jason Pearce to burst into the area.
Charlton’s clean sheet was still intact at the interval, despite Fulham having over seventy percent of the first-half possession, but it should have been dirtied shortly after the restart.
Ivan Cavaleiro, who scored in the reverse fixture at Craven cottage earlier on this season, floated a corner over towards the far-post, where an unmarked Michael Hector somehow sent a header flying wide with the goal at his mercy.
Fulham’s Kevin McDonald lifted over from the edge of the box after a dangerous Onomah cross found its way out to him, with Alfie Doughty then denied from a difficult angle after the ball was laid into his path by Cullen.
Jonny Williams was thrown into the mix by Bowyer midway through the second-period and the hosts started to exert some pressure on their high-flying opponents.
Erhun Oztumer was off-target from range after a fine move down the right from Doughty – before Bowyer then introduced Lyle Taylor from the bench for his first involvement since the defeat at Swansea on the second of this month.
Andre Green was also brought on inside the ten minutes as Bowyer looked to turn the draw into a win – and they nearly had a late opener as Taylor’s cross looked for Williams, only to be hacked away by Hector.
PHOTOS: KYLE ANDREWS/ PAUL EDWARDS
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