Happy Slav hails ‘brave’ Whites

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Tom Bas­sam

UN­FLAP­PABLE is per­haps the best way to de­scribe Ful­ham man­ager Slav­isa Jokanovic, and his side are start­ing to be­come a mir­ror im­age.

Sone Aluko scored the first and cre­ated the third as Ful­ham saw off a brief Pre­ston resur­gence af­ter Tom Barkhuizen’s goal to win 3-1.

Chris Martin – who is still seek­ing a re­turn to par­ent club Derby County – marked his re­turn to the side with the sec­ond to go into dou­ble fig­ures for the sea­son.

The win sees Ful­ham keep pace with the four play-off sides who, un­for­tu­nately for Jokanovic, all won. That could be the only blot on his day.

“I be­lieve we played a very good game. I must be sat­is­fied with our per­for­mance. We fol­lowed our style, moved the ball and cre­ated many chances,” said the Ful­ham man­ager. “When Pre­ston scored their goal we knew we would be in some kind of trou­ble for a few min­utes but we found a so­lu­tion.

“The team showed their char­ac­ter, played bravely and scored a third goal. We scored three, I be­lieve we could have scored many more.

“I am not such a ro­man­tic man and in gen­eral I just want us to al­ways win. It is a sim­ple choice of what is best for us.

“There is a gap of six points be­tween us and the top six, this is our tar­get, what we are go­ing to push for at the end of the sea­son. We are still in po­si­tion to fight to play af­ter the first week in May.”

Pre­ston as­sis­tant Glynn Sn­odin praised Ful­ham’s bold foot­ball and said there was lit­tle doubt they de­served their win.

“We’ve come up against a good side,” he said. “What they do, how they play, the play­ers they’ve got in their side, they were dif­fer­ent class and a step above us.

“Credit to our play­ers they kept go­ing to the end and we al­most got back in the game un­til, against the run of play, they get the third.

“They are a good coun­ter­at­tack­ing side who can han­dle the ball and they have great move­ment – foot­ball brains – and that is what we have been un­done by, a great foot­balling side. You know what they’re go­ing to do but it’s hard to stop some­times.”

Ful­ham might feel they should have gone in at the break with more than their one-goal lead af­ter dom­i­nat­ing the first half.

Fol­low­ing sev­eral at­tempts Ful­ham fi­nally found a man in space from one of their trips to the by-line, Ke­bano pick­ing out Aluko with an in­stinc­tive pull-back for the Nige­ria in­ter­na­tional to slam home from the penalty spot.

The con­fi­dent Cot­tagers had sev­eral more op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­crease the ad­van­tage be­fore the break. To­mas Kalas went the clos­est when he flicked on a near­post cor­ner only to see Chris Maxwell make a fine re­ac­tion save.

Ful­ham got the sec­ond goal their play de­served on the hour. Ryan Fred­er­icks roamed for­ward and found Martin in an un­fath­omable amount of space in the box. The striker was left with the sim­plest of tasks and fin­ished well into the bot­tom cor­ner.

When Barkhuizen latched on to Ai­den McGeady’s through ball to make it 2-1 Pre­ston briefly threat­ened to make a game of it.

That hope lasted about ten min­utes un­til Ke­bano killed the con­test when found in the box by Aluko, al­low­ing Ful­ham to see out the clos­ing stages.

PIC­TURES: ProS­ports/Matt Red­man

YOU’RE THE MAN: Ful­ham for­ward Chris Martin is con­grat­u­lated af­ter mak­ing it 2-0

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