FT: Fulham 1 Aston Villa 0

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FULL-TIME: Fulham continue their great run at Craven Cottage with five wins from their last six games now. Chris Baird was the unlikely matchwinner slotting home at the near post from John Arne Riise's inswinging corner. Only his third goal for the club on his 150th appearance. Villa should have levelled straight from the resulting kick-off as substitute Christian Benteke somehow firing wide from close-range.

Delph sends the ball into the box and Matt Lowton directs his header straight into the hands of Mark Schwarzer.

Brett Holman's shot from the edge of the box is deflected away for a corner.

Eric Lichaj lifts the ball into the box allowing Mark Schwarzer to claim it with ease.

Four minutes off added time at Craven Cottage as Villa pump the ball forward.

Fulham have stepped it up in the last five minutes. They had been looking the stronger side in the closing stages.

Paul Lambert is gutted because his side lost their concentration from what was a simple corner, but in all honesty Benteke missed a sitter at the other end straight from the kick-off.

GREAT CHANCE! At the other end Brett Holman's cross is driven inches wide of the far post by Christian Benteke.

John Arne Riise's corner from the left is poked home by the Fulham defender at the near post. Only his third goal for the club on his 150th appearance!


SO CLOSE! Brad Guzan punches the ball into the air to deny Ashkan Dejagah what would have been a debut goal.

Ashkan Dejagah fires in a cross from the right and the ball fizzes past a number of players, but nobody can apply the touch.

Christian Benteke handles the ball and Chris Foy awards Fulham the free-kick on halfway.

Fabian Delph has a dig from 30-yards, but Aaron Hughes blocks the shot.

The visiting supporters have been loud and proud this afternoon as Charles N'Zogbia wins a throw.

Suddenly the Fulham fans find their voices with the clock ticking down.

YELLOW CARD: Substitute Eric Lichaj is booked for a late challenge on Mahamadou Diarra.

The striker has been in fine form at international level scoring in both of Belgium's World Cup qualifying games in the past week. One of those goals came in a 2-0 win at home to Scotland.

SUBSTITUTION: Christian Benteke replaces Darren Bent as Villa make their final change.

WHAT A BLOCK! Matt Lowton makes a superb block to deny Hugo Rodallega a certain goal from close-range.

The clock is ticking for one of these teams to try and earn three points in a game of few chances.

The Iranian signed from Wolfsburg on a three-year deal this summer as Fulham win a corner, but it comes to nothing.

SUBSTITUTION: Ashkan Dejagah comes on for his Fulham debut as he replaces Kieran Richardson.

YELLOW CARD: John Arne Riise is booked for a nasty sliding challenge.

Can the changes for both sides somehow change this match? Guzan's kick out is poor, but he gets away with it as Steve Sidwell makes a mistake.

SUBSTITUTION: Charles N'Zogbia replaces Stephen Ireland as Paul Lambert makes his second change within a matter of minutes.

SUBSTITUTION: Fulham change and Mahamadou Diarra, who has made a miracle recovery from injury, in on for Mladen Petric.

GREAT CHANCE! WIth Villa still shuffling their men around at the back a poor clearance falls to Kieran Richardson on the edge of the box, but he fires over the crossbar.

SUBSTITUTION: Eric Lichaj replaces the injured Nathan Baker and he will slot in as full-back.

Matt Lowton has gone in to join Ron Vlaar in central defence.

The central defender somehow gets back to his feet because replays show it looked a bad one. He will surely have to be replaced here!

INJURY! Chris Foy stops the game because Nathan Baker looks to have turned his ankle in a challenge with Mladen Petric.

Villa's have gone 12 Premier League away games without a win. Their last victory came against Wolves back in January.

Meanwhile, at the other end Steve Sidwell decides to have a pop from 30-yards and the ball fizzes just wide of the near post.

Darren Bent presents the ball for the home side as he attempts in vain to keep the ball in play.

Villa's counter-attacking is dangerous as Fulham start to send more and more men forward.

CLOSE VILLA! Matt Lowton delivers a wonderful right-foot cross, but neither Bent or Holman can divert the ball into the back of the net.

Dimitar Berbatov tries to score a spectacular goal as he attempts an audacious volley from the edge of the box, but the ball spins away for a goalkick.

Disappointing break from Villa as Holman and Bent fail to combine but the start to the second half has been very much like the first. End to end stuff!

YELLOW CARD: Karim El Ahmadi is booked for sliding into Dimitar Berbatov on halfway. Easy decision!

CHANCE FOR VILLA! Stephen Ireland races away down the right and his low ball into the box is almost touched home by Agbonlahor.

Now Berbatov claims he was pulled back by Lowton, but Chris Foy waves play on.

CHANCE! Once again Fulham have started bright and Hugo Rodallega is free at the back post, but he fires his shot into the ground before Guzan holds onto the ball.

No changes to either side at the break and we're underway in this second period.

The teams are heading out for the second half. Let's hope for better!

Don't forget, if you'd like to air your views during the second half, email Raz...that's me! at razwan.mirza@bskyb.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.

HALF-TIME: Fulham started the brighter with Dimitar Berbatov pulling the strings in the opening 20 minutes and Brad Guzan made a couple of solid stops. Villa grew into the game and by the end of the half, things were pretty even. Hardly a classic at Craven Cottage, so let's hope for better in the second half.

Agbonlahor finds space in the box but he decides to try and find Bent in the 6-yard box rather than have a dig at goal and the move eventually breaks down.

Villa have won just three of their last 23 away matches although it's been pretty even this afternoon.

CLOSE! Hugo Rodallega's wonderful delivery is headed over the crossbar by the unmarked Steve Sidwell. The former Villa man should really have done better from 8-yards out.

Fabian Delph bumps into the back of Mladen Petric and Fulham are awarded the free-kick wide right.

Riise surges forward down the left and flies past Holman before being stopped by a crunching tackle by Matt Lowton.

Wonderful pass out wide from Steve Sidwell to John Arne Riise and his cross falls to Berbatov's feet just inside the area, but he can't keep his attempted left-foot volley down.

Villa players throw themselves at the ball as Joe Bennett loses his concentration, allowing Rodallega to nip in ahead of him.

Stephen Ireland fails to spot Brett Holman in space on the far side and he opts to send the ball to his right instead.

Bennett is eased off the ball by Rodallega, but the full-back is keen to drive into the final third.

Who wouldn't miss the big man! Now, back to the game and Rodallega is back on his feet and play is underway again.

Adam Bernard Tweets: "We're not alarmed Gabby hasn't scored in 26 PL games, we love a striker who can't score. On an unrelated note, I miss Heskey."

Meanwhile, Hugo Rodallega is in need of some medical attention as he seemingly slips and injures himself.

Very little quality in the cross and 'keeper Mark Schwarzer collects with ease.

Villa have found their feet as the game has gone on and they're starting to keep possession well. They win a corner of their own now.

Interestingly enough, Hangeland has now played the full 90 minutes in 49 straight matches for the longest active streak in the Premier League.

Brede Hangeland climbs highest from the inswinger, but cannot direct his header.

Lovely link-up play on the left side from Fulham as Kieran Richardson finds John Arne Riise in space and they win a corner.

Fulham try a short one to catch Villa out, but Brett Holman reads the situation and brings the ball out.

This time Villa full-back Bennett has pulled the shirt of Berbatov and Chris Foy awards the free-kick out wide right.

Hugo Rodallega is free in the box, but his struggles to get above Joe Bennett for the header.

Most of the good football has come from Fulham, but Villa are getting back into this contest.

Aaron Hughes and Darren Bent vie for the high ball and the Northern Irishman comes out on top this time.

Stiliyan Petrov chants ring around the away end at Craven Cottage in the 19th minute. Applause from the Fulham fans too which is nice to see.

Agbonlar hasn't scored in his last 26 Premier League appearances which is somewhat alarming if you're a Villa fan.

Villa are becoming more and more confident in this game as Bennett makes space for Gabby Agbonlahor to cut inside, but his scuffed effort from 25-yards is held by Mark Schwarzer.

Well, I can tell you Ali, Joe has started pretty solid this afternoon. He's certainly settled into life in the Premier League very well.

Ali Bennett ... sister of Villa's Joe Tweets: "Hi from Africa!! Good luck to the team and my little bro Joe Bennett!! Gutted I'm not there....be back for the game on 22nd December."

The hosts are keeping possession well until they gift the ball back to Villa and Guzan sends it long downfield.

Well, maybe some of the players didn't get those instructions because the Bulgarian turns and sends over a cross form Mladen Petric, but he can't control his header and directs it wide of the far post.

The game has suddenly calmed down after thatr frentic opening. I wonder if Paul Lambert sent out instructions to his players to get tighter on Berbatov?

Fulham have lost just one of their last seven matches this season and that was against the Premier League champions Manchester City.

They were getting the inquisition early on as the busy Berbatov is taken down to the ground, but referee Chris Foy allows play to go on.

Villa are starting to settle now after a tough opening to this game.

Encouraging movement from Gabby Agbonlahor as he strides away from his marker before eventually seeing his shot swerve away from the far post.

CHANCE AGAIN! Dimitar Berbatov is causing all sorts of problems as he finds space in the Villa box. Mladen Petric eventually gets the shot away, but once again Guzan is alert.

CHANCE FULHAM! Dimitar Berbatov is played onside by some slack Villa defending and Brad Guzan has to parry the cross-cum-shot away.

Kieran Richardson looks to send in an early cross, but Matt Lowton makes a solid block.

Villa have made their worst league start for 26 years while only four teams left Craven Cottage with maximum points last season.

Fulham are strong away while Villa have been unable to win away, so what's going to happen today? We're underway at the Cottage.

Kristian emails me expecting an easy home win: "Fulham looking good, predicting Berbatov with a brace and Kancaniklic with a late goal off the bench in a 3-0 result. A real shame Kancaniklic isn't staring to be fair, has been looking sharp for Sweden against Faroe islands and Germany."

The teams are out and we're minutes away from kick-off. Craven Cottage is packed to capacity and the pitch is green and slick as ever in west London.

Meanwhile, Brian Cook says: "I think the best the Villa could expect today is a draw. Martin Jol has got Fulham playing well and scoring goals, especially at home. I like what Paul Lambert is doing and I just hope we can survive this year so we can build on it next season."

Villa fan Dave says: "Hi Raz, Great to see Bent back in the starting 11. It's vital we get 3 points today because we have our toughest month of the season coming up and would of expected a few more points on the board at this stage of the season, we're not playing bad at all and I'm convinced we're going to give either Fulham today or Norwich next week a hiding, gut feeling it's going to be Fulham. I'm going for a result of Fulham 1 Villa 5."

Fulham are 8/11 to claim victory with our friends @SkyBet, who make Aston Villa 19/5 and the draw 13/5. The Cottagers' Dimitar Berbatov is favourite to bag the first goal at 5/1 while Mladen Petric is 11/2. Hugo Rodallega is a good outside bet at 6/4 to score in 90 minutes while Sascha Riether is 40/1. Meanwhile, Villa's Darren Bent is 15/2 and Gabriel Agbonlahor is 8/1 for the visitors. Brett Holman is 9/2 to score in 90 minutes. Stephen Ireland is a 12/1 shot to score first. I'm going for a pre-match prediction of 2-1, which is 7/1. Head now to SkyBet to place your bets.

Darren Bent is recalled to the Aston Villa side at Craven Cottage. Bent was dropped for Villa's last two matches, promoting rumours of a rift with manager Paul Lambert, but he has returned to the starting line-up along with centre-back Nathan Baker and midfielder Stephen Ireland.

Fulham have Dimitar Berbatov fit again and the Bulgarian started alongside Mladen Petric, who have both recovered from a calf problem, while Kieran Richardson is preferred to Alex Kacaniklic in midfield.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Baird, Sidwell, Berbatov, Petric, Richardson, Rodallega, Riether

SUBSTITUTES: Senderos, Kasami, Karagounis, Diarra, Dejagah, Kacaniklic, Stockdale

ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Baker, Bennett, El Ahmadi, Delph, Ireland, Holman, Agbonlahor, Bent.

SUBSTITUTES: Given, Benteke, N'Zogbia, Lichaj, Bannan, Albrighton, Weimann

REFEREE: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Here come the teams...

George Bennett reckons we're going to see an easy home win this afternoon. He emails in to say: "I can see Fulham beating Villa today due to their class home form, Fulham to win 2-0, Petric and Berbatov to get one each."

Well, Bent will play alongside Gabby Agbonlahor this afternoon Villa fans. What are your thoughts ahead of this game? And do you think Lambert is still struggling to find his preferred formation? Email Raz...that's me! at razwan.mirza@bskyb.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.

Lambert is confident Villa will keep hold of dropped record signing Darren Bent beyond the January transfer window. He said: "I'm pretty sure Darren will come back strongly. I don't think he'll take it (being dropped) lying down. There's nothing wrong with getting a knock at times, nothing wrong with it. He'll bounce back from it. He's only missed two games. He's nothing to prove to me or anybody else. I know what he can do."

I can reveal that Lambert has opted to put Belgian hitman Christian Benteke on the bench today, so he won't make a fourth straight start. The 21-year-old has been in fine form in the past week scoring in both of Belgium's World Cup qualifiers, against Serbia and Scotland, to put his country top of Group A. "For someone who is only 21 and the way he is performing, what he will do for this club will be terrific," said Lambert. "I thought that when we signed him 'this kid can be a right top player'. I think he can be huge, anything he wants to be. He can be a top, top striker because he is a handful."

Are you Fulham fans happy with the start to your side's season? Do you feel you're making strides under the management of Jol and what are your expectations this season...top 8 perhaps?

Fulham will be looking to continue their sturdy start to the season. Goals have been plentiful for Martin Jol's side and only Manchester United have scored more than the Cottagers' 15. The ninth-placed side have been boosted by Dimitar Berbatov, who has two goals and an assist in his first two starts with the club after missing the draw at Southampton. Mahamadou Diarra, who was expected to be ruled out for the majority of the season after he damaged his left knee on his return from international exile with Mali and required surgery is also expected to return today. "Diarra is back," the Fulham manager said. "He is almost a miracle, you know? I thought it would be a bit longer, but they always said it could be three or four weeks or possibly longer. He needed an operation and, having said that, he is still coming back. He will be involved."

If you'd like to air your views before or during the match, email Raz...that's me! at razwan.mirza@bskyb.com or Tweet me: @RazMirza and I'll publish as many as I can.

Hello and welcome to our live minute-by-minute text commentary from this afternoon's Premier League clash between Fulham and Aston Villa from Craven Cottage.

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