Fulham succumbed to a 0-3 defeat on a dreary Saturday afternoon at Craven Cottage.
A first half Josh Bowler strike gave the visitors a lead heading into the break. Shortly after the re-start Jarrod Bowen found the net to put the game beyond reach and a third was added by Tom Eaves with five minutes remaining on a day to forget for Fulham.
Scott Parker made two changes from the side that picked up a gritty point away from home last week in the North-East. Marcus Bettinelli returned to the starting XI following the suspension of Marek Rodák & Stefan Johansen replaced Josh Onomah in a midfield three alongside Tom Cairney and Harrison Reed.
Following a rousing rendition of the last post the match started badly for Fulham. After tracking back to make a challenge Joe Bryan went down clutching his back and thigh area. After receiving lengthy treatment the fullback limped off and was replaced by Maxime Le Marchand. A blow in the opening 2 minutes of the game.
It almost went from bad to worse in the 4th minute when a chip over our back line found an unmarked Kamil Grosicki. With the defence scrambling to get back the winger turned and shot low with his left foot. Bettinelli reacted well to get down and smother the tricky shot.
With the rain pelting down and the visitors full of energy the deadlock was broken in the 10th minute. After a slip allowed Grosicki free run down the left wing and deep cross was eventually swung in. A downward header from Bowler ricocheted off the back of Le Marchand and fell straight back to him. With time he placed his shot low into the bottom right-hand corner. Not the opening ten minutes we would have wanted.
Despite going down we didn’t let out heads drop and patiently looked to carve out our opening. We kept hold of the ball but every time we headed into the final third our killer pass was lacking and the Tigers looked ominous on the counter when they won possession in their own half. They looked to move the ball quickly down both flanks and expose us when we had committed men forward in attack.
In the 31st minute we came close to pulling level. Ivan Cavaleiro cut in from the left wing and surged inside, holding off the challenge of a Hull City defender. Spotting an unmarked Johansen on the edge of the box he fired a strong pass to his feet. The Norwegian controlled the ball and slipped in Mitro. The powerful striker fired low with a right-footed shot but unfortunately it was straight at George Long.
As the first half wound down we started to assert ourselves on the encounter. However, unable to carve out any clear openings in front of goal we were forced to go into the intermission trailing.
A wet, windy and dreary opening 45 from the lads, there was work to be done in the second half if were to get anything out of the match.
The Head Coach made one change at the break. Bobby Decordova-Reid who had been lively down the wing was replaced by Anthony Knockaert.
The change made an impact and the opening ten minutes of the second half were dominated by Fulham. After some neat link up down the right flank Johansen swung in a dangerous ball into the penalty area. Mitro was in there looking to get on the end of it but the ball was cleared by the Hull defender. After some half-hearted appeals for a handball the referee waved play on.
In the 57th minute the hole that we found ourselves in got considerably larger. A lethal counter attack from the Tigers saw the lead doubled. A fizzed through ball found the feet of Bowen. The in-form winger killed the ball with an expert touch and then bared down on goal. After going unchallenged he picked his spot and lashed on home into the far corner.
It proved to be the knockout blow for Fulham as Hull kept more men behind the ball but continued to look threatening on the counter-attack. And in the 84th minute a third was added courtesy of another fluid move. Bettinelli produced a solid save to deny Bowen who had gone clean through, however the save fell straight to the feet of Eaves who slid it home.
There was no way through a well organised and cohesive Hull outfit. We will look to bounce back against Birmingham City next weekend at St.Andrew’s.