Affectionately known as the Swans, Køge, who were relegated from the Superliga last season, proved to be a well-organised outfit who withheld the Whites’ relentless pressure at the Stadion der Freundschaft in Grimma.
Marcello Trotta was denied a opening goal by a fine reaction stop by goalkeeper Morten Jensen on the stroke of half-time and, after ringing 11 changes, Martin Jol’s second-half side picked up where the others left off, attacking with intent.
But, despite the best efforts of John Arne Riise, Mousa Dembele and Mladen Petric raining in shots at the Danish side’s goal, Køge refused to buckle and the Whites were left satisfied, but slightly frustrated.
The Fulham Manager, Jol, elected to field an experimental line-up in the first half, with many familiar first-team faces being saved for a second-half introduction, but our youthful line-up settled quickly and soon took the upper hand.
Matthew Briggs was the first to stretch the Swans’ defence, dropping over a dangerous cross which needed to be scrambled away, but, in response, Marcel Rømer’s scuffed volley flew narrowly wide of captain-for-the-day Mark Schwarzer’s upright.
HB Køge’s disciplined midfield began to squeeze the game in central areas but the Whites enjoyed more success on the flanks, with Alex Kacaniklic working goalkeeper Jensen with a driven cross.
The Swans continued to grow into the game and Schwarzer had to be alert to collect Nicolaj Madsen’s glancing header but, as half-time drew nearer, the Whites went up through the gears.
First Lauri Dalla Valle’s stinging effort was deflected over, then, after a bombardment of Fulham corners, Marcello Trotta’s thunderous volley was denied by the superb reflexes of stopper Jensen.
It was all change at the interval, with Jol switching from 4-4-2 to a more familiar 4-3-3 and 11 substitutions made. It took only three minutes of the second period for the Whites to prise their way through, as John Arne Riise switched to Mesca and the lively wide-man’s shot deflected wide.
In reply, Madsen worked back-up keeper David Stockdale at one end and Riise rained in a couple of long-range blasters – one of which that will no doubt leave Jensen’s hands red raw for days.
The Whites persevered, with Mousa Dembele’s trickery and Mladen Petric’s relentless movement working the Danish team one way and the other, but they continued to hold firm.
Køge refused to give up on snatching their own winner and a golden opportunity fell to Madsen on 70 minutes but the midfielder dragged his 12-yard shot over.
Fulham were relentless in their quest to find the elusive goal – with Dembele pulling a strike wide, and numerous other attempts charged down and scrambled away.
Kerim Frei’s perfectly-placed corner found the head of Petric but the Croatian’s powerful header flew over the crossbar, before Riise burst in behind Køge’s defence for a final chance to clinch victory, but the Norwegian could only drag his shot wide.
Fulham Team: Schwarzer (Stockdale); Brister (Riether), Baird (Hughes), Halliche (Hangeland), Briggs (Riise); Davies (Na Bangna), Etuhu (Sidwell), Gecov (Diarra), Kacaniklic (Frei); Trotta (Dembele), Dalla Valle (Petric)
Date: Sunday 15 July 2012
Referee: Lars Albert
Team line-up is not available.
Team line-up is not available.