Fulham maintained their strong start to pre-season with a resounding 5-0 win over Preston North End in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Fota Island on Tuesday afternoon.
A brace from Cauley Woodrow and a Sone Aluko goal on his first appearance for the Club had put the Whites firmly in control at the break, and a Matt Smith second half double salvo made sure of another victory and clean sheet.
A sharp Fulham outfit started the match in electric fashion, as Woodrow led the line with Aluko deployed just off the young striker. It was the newly forged forward partnership that came close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute, with Tom Cairney slipping Richard Stearman in down the right wing with a pinpoint through ball. The defender drilled a low cross into the feet of Aluko after a Woodrow stepover, but his right footed shot was saved.
The frantic pace continued and in the seventh minute the Whites had their breakthrough. Ryan Sessegnon showed great pace and power to beat his opposing defender down the left wing. After taking a quick look up he played a low ball across the penalty area which Woodrow dispatched into the bottom corner.
Moments later Aluko and Woodrow were at it again. The Nigerian forward pounced on an errant touch from the Preston defender and played Woodrow through. With only the keeper to beat, he calmly picked his spot and slid an effort past goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard and into the bottom left hand corner.
As the heavens opened there was no respite for a shell shocked Preston outfit and Aluko picked out Floyd Ayité with a drilled cross-field ball. After some tricky footwork his powerful cross could only be spilled behind for a corner by Lindegaard.
With Marcus Bettinelli barely troubled in the Fulham net the defence stood firm, marshalled by the experienced heads of Stearman, Michael Madl and Tim Ream, combined with the excellent Sessegnon at left back.
Just before half-time Fulham bagged their third. Ayité never gave up on a loose ball down the right and regained possession in a dogged battle with the Preston left-back. The ball eventually found its way to Aluko just inside the box and he made no mistake and he drilled a bullet shot home past a bewildered Lindegaard.
Ryan Tunnicliffe’s presence had added bite in the Fulham midfield, and the guile of Cairney was ever-present throughout the half.
Head Coach Slaviša Jokanović rung the changes at half time, and it was the introduction of Smith which saw the Whites bag another goal just after the restart. Stephen Humphrys, in good goal scoring form himself, picked up the ball on the left wing and lofted a cross to the back post. Smith outmuscled a defender and bulleted a header home.
Dennis Adeniran had slotted into the midfield and he let his presence be felt early on with some powerful runs and combative tackles. The electric pace of Ryan Fredericks was also on show down the right flank and the partnership that had proved so successful in the first friendly of the summer was revisited as he reunited with Luca de la Torre. Scott Parker was introduced along with Tayo Edun, who slotted into left-back.
With under 10 minutes to go Lasse Vigen Christensen received the ball and sent a vicious strike goalwards. En route it took a deflection off Smith and nestled in the back of the net.
With the Whites coasting to victory, Jesse Joronen made a solid save to deny a Preston goal as he stood tall in a one on one, and Ream blocked the follow-up heroically to preserve a clean sheet.
As the referee blew his whistle to end the match, he also brought an end to a successful pre-season trip for Fulham at Fota Island; nine days of intense training topped off with an impressive victory over strong opposition.
First half team: Bettinelli, Stearman, Madl, Ream, Sessegnon, Tunnicliffe, Trialist, Cairney, Ayité, Aluko, Woodrow
Second half team: Joronen, Fredericks, Stearman, Ream, Edun, de la Torre, Parker, Adeniran, Christensen, Smith, Humphrys