Fulham Preseason Continues with Draw vs. Real Betis, 3 New Signings Play

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05:  Dimitar Berbatov of Fulham battles Javier Matilla of Real Betis during the pre season friendly match between Fulham and Real Betis at Craven Cottage on August 5, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Fulham moved one step closer to the new Premier League season, when they drew 1-1 with Spanish team Real Betis on Monday.

This was the first match hosted at home for Fulham since they were taken over by new owner Shahid Khan.

It was also the Cottagers' fifth preseason game of the summer, and after a tour to Costa Rica, a trip to Germany and this home fixture against Betis, they have only been defeated once—a 1-0 loss at Werder Bremen.

Boss Martin Jol fielded new signings Maarten Stekelenburg, Derek Boateng and Fernando Amorebieta in his starting lineup, with last year's loan star Sascha Riether—now a permanent Fulham player—also in the XI.

It was Steve Sidwell, though, who scored the opening goal of the game after only 13 minutes, heading home from a Bryan Ruiz corner after Fulham had struggled to create any major chances beforehand.

Plenty of the ball for Betis yielded little return in front of goal, and Dimitar Berbatov had the ball in the net next for the English side, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

Stekelenburg didn't have too much to do in the first half but was picking the ball out of his net less than 10 minutes after the restart. Nigerian attacker Nosa Igiebor was played into the penalty area after a powerful run, and finished smartly past the Dutch keeper to level up the scores.

Despite a second disallowed goal for Fulham, this time for Hugo Rodallega, and a turned-down penalty appeal from Ruiz, there were no further goals and both sides settled for the draw.

From a preseason game against more than reasonable opposition, Jol and his side can be relatively pleased at having held their own. They will be keen to ensure their home form is once again impressive once the season gets underway properly, with the Cottagers notoriously poor in the league away from Craven Cottage.

Even so, they won only seven times in the Premier League at home last term, taking just 24 points at home in total.

Jol has worked this summer to restructure his squad to an extent, replacing ageing stars with some astute buys in Stekelenburg and Boateng in particular, while Adel Taarabt is also close to a loan deal according to Sky Sports.

Even so, Fulham have spent just £6 million in fees this summer so far, and more is arguably needed if they are to compete with other mid-table sides to improve on last year's 12th place showing.

Fulham play Italian side Parma at home in their final preseason game, before starting the new campaign away to Sunderland on August 17.