Fulham booked their place in the Quarter Final of the FA Cup with a professional display against Notts County at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon. Simon Davies opened the scoring for the Whites in the first-half and his goal was followed by a powerful strike from Bobby Zamora. Second-half goals from Damien Duff and Stefano Okaka capped off a good display from Fulham.
The Whites started well and crafted a fine scoring opportunity in the second minute when Chris Baird rolled a smart pass into the path of Bobby Zamora in the Notts County penalty area. Zamora turned past his marker and fired a low shot just wide of the far post.
David Kevan elected to start with a 4-5-1 formation, no doubt hoping to stifle Fulham in the midfield area. Roy Hodgson maintained the front two pairing of Zamora and Elm, and the two certainly started the game well.
Fulham looked comfortable on the ball in the opening exchanges with Baird in particular impressing with some accurate passing from right-back. The Northern Ireland international twice found Zamora with superb long-range passes and also maintained his composure in tight quarters.
Notts County soon began to work their way back into the match and a sustained spell of pressure from County culminated in Ben Davies stinging the palms of Mark Schwarzer with a long-range effort, which the Fulham keeper pushed over.
Simon Davies put Fulham in the lead on 22 minutes with a fine finish after being found by a long pass from Danny Murphy. Davies did well to work some space for the shot from 18 yards, which he placed inside Kasper Schmeichel’s right hand post.
Schmeichel then did well to deny Damien Duff with a good save to his right after the Republic of Ireland international turned on to his left foot and tried his luck from inside the area.
Davies’ goal appeared to subdue County whose attacks became less frequent as the first-half wore on. Whilst their formation was successful in providing resistance to Fulham’s passing play in the middle of the park, their options were reduced when attacking in open play.
Craig Westcarr had by far the visiting side’s best chance of the first-half when he found space on the edge of the six-yard box but his shot was superbly saved by Schwarzer.
Bobby Zamora doubled Fulham’s lead in the 41st minute, finishing off a wonderful move from the Whites. Nicky Shorey started the attack with a direct run deep into Notts County territory before slipping a pass to David Elm who deftly flicked it to Zamora on the edge of the area. Zamora fired emphatically past Schmeichel.
The second-half got off to a slow start, with Fulham pressing Notts County well. The visitors certainly had the better of the half chances in the opening minutes with Ben Davies and Lee Hughes both getting their shots away as County looked to find a foothold in the game.
The Whites looked less active in terms of creating opportunities from open play and Notts County Manager, David Kevan, looked press for a goal when he switched formation to a more conventional 4-4-2 line-up following the introduction of Luke Rodgers.
With one less man in midfield for County, Fulham were able to attack with greater incisiveness and Simon Davies in particular was enjoying more time on the ball. Indeed, Davies could have netted a third for the Whites when he was put through, unfortunately his left-footed shot was blocked.
Danny Murphy was replaced by Jonathan Greening on 69 minutes, having put in a typically influential performance in the centre of the park.
Damien Duff netted Fulham’s third goal of the afternoon when he beat Kasper Schmeichel at his near post on 73 minutes. The goal came after a Fulham attack appeared to lose some of its momentum but Zamora found Duff with an accurate pass to get the Whites moving again. Duff cut back on to his left foot and made sure of Fulham’s place in the Quarter Finals with a crisp strike.
Stefano Okaka and Bjorn Helge Riise replace Duff and Zamora soon after the restart. And Okaka didn’t have to wait long to open his Fulham account when he pounced on a defensive error to run clear through on goal and fire a shot through Schmeichel’s legs and into the back of the net.
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