BY DANIEL MARSH
Fulham needed extra-time to edge out west London rivals QPR 2-0 to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Bobby Decordova-Reid and Neeskens Kebano stepped off the bench to provide the killer touch needed to dispatch the R’s with two late goals after a goalless 90 minutes.
It turned out to be a derby which highlighted both sides’ deficiencies in front of goal, as they combined to miss a hatful of chances with poor finishing on display throughout.
Scott Parker made seven changes from Fulham’s last outing against Southampton on Boxing Day, with the likes of Josh Onomah, Terence Kongolo and Kenny Tete all returning to action.
The visitors’ lack of football over the past few weeks showed, and they could have been behind after just two minutes following a slow start. Former Charlton striker Macauley Bonne should have done better than heading over from six yards. Marek Rodak was back in first-team action, and he had to stay alert to hold on to a long-range strike from the lively Ilias Chair minutes later.
Shortly after, Joe Bryan came within a whisker of recreating his sensational Wembley goal from midway inside the hosts half. His lofted effort shaved the post with Seny Dieng stranded after the QPR keeper had gifted the full-back the ball with a sloppy clearance.
Onomah was looking to make the most of his first appearance since October, with a view to forcing his way into Fulham’s 25-man Premier League squad. He showcased a fine touch, and even better awareness, to slide Aleksander Mitrovic in on goal. Unfortunately the Serbian striker looked a man drained of confidence. He was a touch slow to get his shot away and was ultimately thwarted by an excellent recovery tackle by Yoann Barbet.
That wouldn’t prove to be the only chance that Mitrovic would pass up, as he nodded narrowly wide from a corner right on the stroke of the interval. You would have fancied an on-song Mitrovic to bury both of those chances.
It was Bonne’s turn to spurn another golden chance in the 54th minute. A cross from the right-hand side fell into his path, but he sliced his volley high and wide from an unmarked position.
Fulham should have punished the R’s shortly after. Ivan Cavaleiro seemed to have all the time in the world in front of goal, but he still wanted more. Ultimately, he took too long and was forced to nudge the ball to Mitrovic. His low effort was blocked on the line by the excellent Barbet to let QPR off the hook.
Lyndon Dykes fluffed another big chance for the hosts after being played clean through before Bright Osayi-Samuel’s inviting low cross somehow didn’t get the required touch.
With the first period of extra-time drawing to a close, it was left to substitute Decordova-Reid to finally break the deadlock in the 104th minute. His pass into Mitrovic was returned to tee him up perfectly to guide home a sweet first-time finish from the edge of the box.
Fellow substitute Kebano lashed home a second with the final kick of the first period of added time to kill off QPR and seal the Whites spot in the next round.
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.