Fulham 0 Brighton 0: Adam Lallana denied winner after VAR check as Scott Parker's side climb out of the relegation zone
THIS stalemate showed how much we desperately need fans back.
Two thousand raucous Fulham supporters made the noise of 20,000 on Sunday to help their side to a precious and well-earned point against Liverpool.
But due to London’s escalation to Tier Three they were shut out again here – and the silence was deafening.
Scott Parker’s men looked a shadow of the side that tormented Jurgen Klopp’s champions and were lucky to escape with a point.
While Graham Potter was left once again stewing over a strong display without the points to show for it thanks to some wasteful finishing and VAR.
The Albion chief made SIX changes from Sunday’s 3-0 humbling at Leicester – including leaving first-choice goalkeeper Maty Ryan out of his squad completely.
His replacement Robert Sanchez, whose only prior appearance came in another shock start in last month’s 2-1 loss at Tottenham, instantly made his voice heard in a once-again empty Craven Cottage.
Parker had labelled the returning ban on fans as “devastating” to his side in the game’s build-up.
His side’s uninspired performance proved him right.
There was no fast start for the hosts like there had been against Mo Salah and Co.
Brighton shaded a tight first half and should have taken the lead just before the half hour.
Adam Lallana and Tariq Lamptey, both back from injury, combined well down the right, allowing the jet-heeled wing-back to fire a dangerous ball across the box.
All Danny Welbeck had to do was hit the target – but in the end he did not even hit the ball as he miskicked and the ball eluded Leandro Trossard behind him.
One intriguing side effect of having no fans has been the ability to hear just how players talk to each other on the pitch.
You would expect Lallana, as one of the most experienced players in the Brighton team, to assert his authority on his team-mates.
And he certainly did so, chastising Ben White for not getting tighter with liberal use of expletives, before praising Yves Bissouma’s closing down with a commanding, “Good”.
Meanwhile Parker, whose final England cap came eight months before Lallana’s first in 2013, was urging his side to speed up their play.
It prompted a flurry in the final few minutes of the opening half as makeshift striker Ivan Cavaleiro forced a flying stop from Sanchez with a 25-yard piledriver.
From the resulting corner, Tosin Adarabioyo had a decent chance to break the deadlock but could not keep his header down at the near post.
Brighton stepped it up after the interval with captain Lewis Dunk going close not once but twice as he had a header saved from a corner – and was then denied on the rebound.
Lallana thought he had his first Brighton goal on 49 minutes as he turned home from close range.
Yet the former Liverpool star was denied by VAR which had spotted a handball from Danny Welbeck in the build-up.
Stockley Park had more involvement swiftly afterwards as it checked for a possible penalty after Ademola Lookman went down in the box, but saw nothing inappropriate.
Brighton were edging closer and came within inches of an opener as Adam Webster crashed a header against the underside of the crossbar.
But the longer it went on without the visitors cashing in on their dominance, the more you feared it would come back to bite then again.
It should have done when Ruben Loftus-Cheek raced clean through.
Yet the Chelsea loanee capped off a disappointing performance by firing straight at Sanchez.
It was a fitting way to end another 2020 Premier League game that felt more like a training-ground match due to the painfully sterile conditions.
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