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26 December 2016

Inconsistent run continues for Blues as Cottagers take the points

Fulham deservedly ended their 53 year wait for victory over Town in an impressive display at Portman Road. 

The Cottagers, down  from the Premier League two years ago, had not beaten Blues since Boxing Day 1963 but they always looked likely to end that run after Chris Martin had put them ahead just past the half hour mark with a free-kick. 

Christophe Berra came closest to finding a way to goal for Town just before half-time with a header but Fulham carried a real threat on the break and should have added to their advantage before Ragnar Sigurdsson headed in from a corner 12 minutes from time.   

Town made one change from the team that won at Wigan last weekend, Jonathan Douglas replacing the injured Jonny Williams.  

Fulham threatened inside the first few minutes, with Berra at full stretch to clear from Scott Malone’s excellent cross, Tom Cairney then firing well wide from 25 yards.

Brett Pitman and Andre Dozzell linked up well in a move that nearly carved out an opening for Douglas on the edge of the box, Jonas Knudsen then clearing from Sone Aluko as the visitors broke.

It needed another excellent intervention from Berra to divert Floyd Ayite’s shot away from goal after Martin and Cairney had exchanged passes. 

Martin was crowded out as Fulham dictated the early proceedings, Luke Chambers penalised at the other end as he looked to find the net from Lawrence’s corner. 

Bart Bialkowski’s reactions kept Town level on the half hour when he blocked Martin’s point blank effort from another superb Malone delivery, Blues responding with Pitman’s cross headed behind as Lawrence threatened at the far post.

Fulham got the breakthrough on 36 minutes, Martin finding the net with a free-kick after Cole Skuse had brought down Stefan Johansen on the edge of the box.

Aluko’s effort was deflected wide as the Cottagers looked for a second goal before the break and it could have come from Kevin McDonald’s header following a corner but Bialkowski was equal to the task. 

On the stroke of half-time, Button was forced into his first save of the opening half, finger-tipping away Berra’s header.   

Town made a double change at half-time with Leon Best and David McGoldrick on for Dozzell and Pitman. 

Sears carved out an opening down the left but his cross was cleared by Michael Madl, Chambers then doing well to quell the threat from Ayite.

McGoldrick found Lawrence with a long range pass, the Wales international just shy of finding Best in the box, then Ayite was inches away from finding the net after he rounded Bialkowski on a tight angle. 

Sears led the response for Blues, Madl hacking the ball clear from three yards out, then Knudsen fired well wide after a break. 

Ayite peppered another shot at the Town goal but over the bar, then the same player should have put clear water between the teams but he failed to find the net from eight yards. 

McGoldrick’s shot was blocked as he cut inside, then Johansen should have scored at the near post from another Fulham counter, Bialkowski denying Ayite a minute later.

The Cottagers finally made it two on 78 minutes, Sigurdsson allowed to head in from a corner and the result was never in doubt from there. 

Town:  Bialkowski, Chambers, Webster, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Dozzell (Best 46), Lawrence, Sears, Pitman (McGoldrick 46). Subs not used: Gerken, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Bru, Ward. Booked: Lawrence, McGoldrick.

Fulham. Button, Ream, Odoi, Malone, Johansen (Parker 89), Madl, McDonald, Cairney, Ayite (Piazon 82), Aluko (Sigurdsson 64), Martin. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kebano, Smith. Booked: McDonald.
Att: 19,723


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