Fulham Under-21s’ winning streak came to an end against Blackburn Rovers at Motspur Park on Thursday afternoon.
Substitute Osayamen Osawe’s second-half header proved to be the pivotal moment in the match as Rovers returned to Lancashire with all three points.
Fulham enjoyed the better chances in the first half, with Chris David, in particular, making a nuisance of himself, but the lack of a cutting edge would prove decisive.
Blackburn edged proceedings in the second half and Osawe should have added to his tally for the afternoon, although Whites substitute Dino Islamovic twice went close to finding an equaliser in the closing stages.
Fulham started the match brightly as David fired a warning shot over the bar with less than 40 seconds on the clock. Cauley Woodrow had intercepted a misplaced Blackburn header before playing in Kerim Frei who found the Dutchman. David then eluded two defenders by dropping his shoulder before hitting a fierce effort that fizzed a yard over the crossbar.
With 10 minutes on the clock, the Whites really should have taken the lead. First, Woodrow fired too close to the keeper when he went one-on-one, before David saw an excellent curling shot tipped just over for a corner.
All the chances were falling Fulham’s way and Alex Smith was next to try his luck on quarter of an hour, but glanced his header wide after meeting Josh Passley’s cross.
John O’Sullivan stung Neil Etheridge’s palms moments later but the Philippines number one was never unduly troubled, before David again forced Matthew Urwin into a good save at the other end. The Dutchman was causing the Rovers backline all manner of problems with his quick feet and pace.
Anton Forrester worked Etheridge on the half-hour mark having eluded the attentions of Jack Grimmer, but the Fulham stopper managed to claim his low effort at the second attempt.
A good cross a minute later from Sean Kavanagh saw the ball fall to Boumesca Tue Na Bangna at the far post, but the winger could only place his shot against the foot of the woodwork and behind for a goal-kick.
The tempo of the match had begun to slow and it wasn’t until the 45th minute that either side went close again, with Passley heading into the keeper’s arms after meeting Smith’s free-kick. Tom Paul then volleyed over at the other end as the match entered first half stoppage time.
The second half begun slowly but Etheridge had to be alert on 52 minutes to palm Osawe’s cross-shot away for a corner.
A delightful chipped through ball from Frei found Na Bangna on 62 minutes but a Blackburn defender did well to recover and block the subsequent shot. Smith then went close with a swerving free-kick from 20 yards following a foul on David.
Blackburn took the lead a minute later, though, when Osawe headed in unmarked from Micah Evans’ cross. It was a soft goal to concede and one that Kit Symons will be none too happy about.
Symons then looked to shake things up a bit with 20 minutes remaining, as Charles Banya replaced Na Bangna.
Osawe nearly doubled Blackburn’s advantage on 72 minutes as he went one-on-one with Etheridge having flicked the ball over Grimmer, but Stephen Arthurworrey made a terrific recovery as he came from nowhere to dispossess the striker before he could get his shot away.
Symons made a double change shortly after as David and Frei made way for Omri Altman and Dino Islamovic, and the big Swede came close to an equaliser with his first touch on 79 minutes. Grimmer headed back across goal to Arthurworrey following a Fulham corner, and the towering centre-back laid it off to Islamovic whose thunderous first-time strike was expertly saved by Urwin. Not only did the Rovers custodian keep the ball out, he held it too.
Osawe was proving to be a real thorn in Fulham’s side and he burst through on 86 minutes but scooped his shot well over the bar from close range.
Islamovic again went close in stoppage time with a rasping drive from 25 yards which man-of-the-match Urwin turned over for a corner. Grimmer headed wide from the subsequent set-piece in what turned out to be the last action of the game as Rovers gained their revenge for the defeat by Fulham at Ewood Park six days ago.
Fulham: 1. Etheridge, 2. Passley, 3. Kavanagh, 4. Vigen Christensen, 5. Arthurworrey, 6. Grimmer, 7. Na Bangna (17. Banya), 8. Smith (c), 9. Woodrow, 10. David (16. Islamovic), 11. Frei (15. Altman). Subs (not used): 12. Joronen, 14. Minkwitz.