Revenge sweet says Symons
FULHAM looked every inch the contenders they might have been this season as they stunned league-leaders Derby County, and manager Kit Symons is confident his side can continue to air their frustrations against the top teams.
The Rams had already scored ten goals in two meetings with their hosts this season but Fulham went ahead as Nikolay Bodurov scored his first goal for the club with a deft finish from a tight angle.
Led by a sterling performance from returning captain Scott Parker, the Cottagers harried the visitors throughout and claimed a deserved second just before half-time as Cauley Woodrow headed in Ross McCormack’s floated cross.
Fulham’s defence remained resolute after the interval to frustrate Derby’s lauded attack and the hosts went close to a third as substitute Moussa Dembele struck the post late on at Craven Cottage.
This victory is Fulham’s first triumph over their opponents since 2005 and was a first win in seven games, giving Symons belief his side can cause further upsets against high-flyers Watford and Bournemouth this week.
“It’s only three points but it’s a big three points because of who it was against and how we did it,” said Symons.
“We were very resolute defensively and we pressed them high up the pitch.
“It’s isolated incidents in games that have really cost us this season – not taking our chances when they come along and conceding cheap goals.
“If I thought we weren’t good enough, I wouldn’t get as annoyed as I do but I know we can beat anyone on our day.
“This sets us up nicely as it’s a tough run of games so to come out with a positive result gives us confidence.
“But can do and will do are two different things and we need to get out there and put in more performances like we did here.”
Derby were given their first warning of Fulham’s attacking threat in the 24th minute when McCormack slid in Ryan Tunnicliffe, but the midfielder snatched his effort wide.
But the hosts took the lead on 30 minutes as Bryan Ruiz’s blocked effort fell to Bodurov and the defender’s precise flick with the outside of his right foot evaded keeper Lee Grant’s dive.
Fulham lost Lasse Vigen Christensen to injury just before half-time but rallied to double their lead as Parker surged forward, feeding McCormack, whose floated delivery was met by Woodrow at the back post.
Despite Rams boss Steve McClaren making two changes at half-time, his side never troubled Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, while McCormack twice went close as Dembele also struck the post.
McClaren said:“We’ve played at a high level for the majority of the season but we came up against a Fulham team who looked at their league position and knew they needed a result.
“They got blocks in, stopped crosses and defended with their lives, so full credit to Fulham – we wouldn’t have scored if we had been playing until Tuesday.
“We’re going to have one or two more bad days at the office this year but the key thing is we just shake it off and go again this week.We missed an opportunity here but there will be others and we hope we take the next one.”
USING HIS HEAD: Cauley Woodrow scores the second goal for Fulham
JOY: Fulham celebrate the opener