Fulham were made to work hard for their place in the Third Round of the Carling Cup. The Whites had dominated the first half with a fine display of possession football, earning themselves a one-goal lead at half time thanks to a Zoltan Gera strike.
But a quick-fire brace from the visitors early in the second half undid all of Fulham’s good work. The Whites equalised through Jimmy Bullard with ten minutes from time and stole the show with an injury-time strike from Danny Murphy.
Roy Hodgson fielded a strong side for this second round tie. The Whites only made one change from the team which started Saturday’s Premiership match against Arsenal, with Fredrik Stoor replacing John Pantsil at right back.
The first evening game of the season got underway with Fulham looking to control possession in the centre of the park. Jimmy Bullard forced the first corner of the match when his dipping effort from 25 yards deflected wide. The Foxes successfully defended the set-piece which resulted in Lloyd Dyer countering with a 50-yard sprint. His shot from the edge of the area was well held by Schwarzer.
Fulham continued to dominate possession, playing the ball nicely in midfield and waiting for an opportunity to present itself. The lively work of Seol and Zamora up front was often giving the Fulham midfield the option to play the ball short as well and try their luck with a chip over the top of the Leicester defence.
Another fine piece of play from Fulham saw them work the ball wide to the right flank where Fredrik Stoor whipped a dangerous ball to the back post. Zoltan Gera, who was advancing quickly, could only slide in and place the ball wide.
A lull in play through the middle part of the first half ended when Leicester conceded two dangerous free kicks in quick succession. Both were whipped in by Bullard but were smuggled away by the Foxes defence.
Fulham opened the scoring in the 31st minute through a deflected Zoltan Gera shot. A long diagonal ball from Stoor to Zamora had the Leicester defence in trouble. Although Zamora failed to take full advantage of the situation, he was able to lay the ball off to Gera whose shot cannoned off Michael Morrison, giving Martin little chance.
The Whites maintained control of proceedings for the remaining minutes of the first half - the subtle passing patterns weaved by Bullard, Davies, Gera and Murphy went some way to limiting Leicester’s attacks. Indeed it seemed the Whites were in danger of becoming over-casual as the first half drew to a close, with two key Leicester attacks coming as a result of unforced Fulham errors.
Leicester’s players were sent out five minutes early for the second half and Nigel Pearson’s half-time team talk certainly had the desired effect with Leicester getting back on level terms early on.
A slight change in formation also benefited the visitors. The half-time introduction of Max Gradel allowed Leicester one more body in midfield, which seemed to swing the balance of play in their favour.
The Whites were immediately caught out down the right flank when Gradel broke free and crossed. The ball was only partially cleared to Paul Dickov who placed his shot past Schwarzer.
Fulham saw a good opportunity go begging when Bobby Zamora fired over from a dangerous Bullard corner. The Whites were stunned again in the 48th minute when Andy King capitalised on good pressuring from Gradel to place the ball into the net.
The two-goal salvo certainly seemed throw the Whites out of their first-half stride as their attacks looked somewhat more rushed as they tried to get back on level pegging. Roy Hodgson replaced Seol Ki-Hyeon with Erik Nevland on 59 minutes.
Leicester reverted to a 4-5-1 formation when out of possession, which was offering far greater resistance to Fulham’s passing game. As a result the Whites turned their attentions to working the ball into the wide positions and delivering more crosses into the area.
The visiting side had seemingly succeeded in increasing the pace of the game and preventing the Whites from getting a foothold in the game. However the Whites were back on level terms through a wonderful Jimmy Bullard finish. The Fulham midfielder played a fast one-two with Simon Davies, who had switched wings, and curled a shot past Martin with the outside of his right foot.
The Whites snatched the winning goal late into injury time when Danny Murphy’s 20 yard strike took a deflection off Kerrea Gilbert to settle matters.
Competition: Carling Cup
Date: Wednesday 27 August 2008
Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.