Happy Slav hails ‘brave’ Whites
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.
YOU’RE THE MAN: Fulham forward Chris Martin is congratulated after making it 2-0