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Match Report


Posted Wed 25 Nov 09 at 21:57 PM

Report: Fulham 3 Rovers 0

Rovers' away day woes returned as they were defeated 3-0 by Fulham.

After the weekend win over Bolton Rovers went into the match at Craven Cottage in good heart, but a disappointing second half display was their undoing.

Neil McDonald's side had started brightly with Franco Di Santo seeing an effort saved after just two minutes. Whilst Jason Roberts went close on a couple of occasions.

But Rovers were made to pay after dominating the first half without reward when Erik Nevland beat Paul Robinson from close range two minutes before the break.

Fulham were much the better side in the second period, fine work from former Rover Damien Duff saw Clint Dempsey provide the finishing touch to double the home side's lead.

Erik Nevland wasted a glorious chance to increase the home side's advantage, whilst at the other end Benni McCarthy and then Pascal Chimbonda both missed the opportunity to get back into the game.

A minute from time Clint Dempsey grabbed his second and Fulham's third, turning Keith Andrews in the area before beating Robinson.

After the promise of the opening half, the second was a real disappointment as Rovers make their way back North pointless.

Rovers surprisingly made three changes from the side that defeated Bolton 2-0 on Sunday.

As expected Lars Jacobsen came in for Gaël Givet who hadn't recovered from a knock to the thigh. Whilst Vince Grella and Keith Andrews came in for Steven Nzonzi who dropped to the bench and Brett Emerton who picked up a knee injury.

The game started in lightning fashion with Rovers fashioning a gilt-edge chance inside the opening 120 seconds.

A wayward pass from Bobby Zamora was seized upon and suddenly Franco Di Santo was through on goal with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Mark Schwarzer stood strong and stopped the Argentine's effort with his legs.

It was a composed start by the visitors, keeping Fulham penned in their own half for long periods, midfielders Vince Grella and David Dunn imposing themselves on the opposition to great effect.

Their dominance was such that after just a quarter hour the moans and groans were starting to be heard from the home support.

Keith Andrews saw a shot deflected over after good work from El-Hadji Diouf and Jason Roberts, whilst Franco Di Santo could only head straight at Schwarzer when well placed.

Rovers were only troubled by the set piece delivery from Jonathan Greening. The former West Brom man putting in the sort of quality deliveries that had been sorely lacking by his team-mates.

Jason Roberts, who scored the winner here at Craven Cottage last March went close on two further first half occasions, a low shot on the turn was easy for Schwarzer, whilst a curling effort after good play by Dunn and Di Santo was a yard wide of the far post.

But that old adage of you have to score when you are on top came back to haunt Sam Allardyce's side as Fulham took the lead against the run of play a minute before half time.

Bobby Zamora and Erik Nevland exchanged passes before the ball went right to Duff, he slipped the ball back inside to Nevland and he beat Paul Robinson at his near post from 12 yards out.

Fulham were just 90 seconds from being booed off by their supporters, instead they were going in at the break undeservedly in front.

Despite leading at the break no doubt former Rovers manager Roy Hodgson will have read the riot act to the home side as they started the second period a different side to the one on show in the first.

Clint Dempsey wasted a brilliant chance to double Fulham's lead just two minutes after the restart when following another impressive centre from Greening the American arrived at the back post but he somehow headed wide.

Chris Baird then tested Paul Robinson with an effort from distance, the Rovers number one getting hold of the ball at the second attempt.

Rovers had been quiet in the opening quarter of the second half, a Franco Di Santo header from a Dunn free-kick their sole effort at goal, and the young striker should have done better with the chance.

Unimpressed with the second half showing from his front men, assistant manager Neil McDonald made a double change, replacing Di Santo and Roberts with Nikola Kalinić and Benni McCarthy.

But the new look strike force had little time to impress as Rovers soon found themselves two goals down on 68 minutes.

Again it was Duff the provider, this time his cross from the right seemed to be heading for the bottom corner until Dempsey arrived to make no mistake.

Initial viewing looked like Dempsey was offside but Duff's effort struck a Rovers player enroute to goal.

Two minutes later and it should have been 3-0. Clint Dempsey closed down a Ryan Nelsen clearance to charge at goal, he unselfishly squared the ball to Nevland on his left but the Norwegian fired wide of the near post with just Robinson to beat.

On 82 minutes Rovers should have reduced arrears but both Benni McCarthy and then Pascal Chimbonda both missed when well placed, it summed up Rovers' night.

Salt was then rubbed into the wounds in the final minute when Simon Davies teed up Dempsey and he turned Keith Andrews with ease to fire home to compound a miserable evening on the Thames.

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Konchesky, Pantsil, Hangeland, Baird, Nevland, Duff (sub Davies 85 mins), Hughes (c), Dempsey, Zamora (sub Gera 59 mins), Greening (sub Etuhu 81 mins).

Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Seol, Smalling, Dikgacoi

ROVERS: Robinson, Jacobsen, Samba, Nelsen (c), Chimbonda, Diouf, Grella, Andrews, Dunn, Di Santo (sub Kalinić 66 mins), Roberts (sub McCarthy 66 mins).

Subs not used: Brown, Pedersen, Nzonzi, Hoilett, Salgado

Booked: None

Attendance: 21,414

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