Fulham 2-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 8th Apr 2017 16:01
Goals from Floyd Ayité and Scott Malone have given Fulham a 2-0 half-time lead over the Blues at Craven Cottage. Ayité netted in the 17th minute and Malone doubled the margin on the half hour.
Tommy Smith replaced the injured Steven Taylor in an otherwise unchanged Town side with 11-goal top scorer Tom Lawrence back on the bench having recovered from his groin injury.
The Blues lined-up in their familiar 3-5-2 system with Smith taking over from Taylor, who is out for the season with a hamstring problem, in the back three.
Fulham dropped their recent regular keeper David Button with Marcus Bettinelli starting between the sticks.
The home side threatened first, winning a second-minute corner which skipper Luke Chambers headed clear, however, the ball subsequently reached Ayité at a tight angle on the right from where he hit a low shot but Bialkowski saved at his near post.
Two minutes later, Stefan Johansen hit a low shot from distance which the Blues’ Polish keeper dealt with comfortably.
Following a fifth-minute right-sided corner, McGoldrick brought the ball back in from the left and hit a shot straight at Bettinelli.
On 10 Chris Martin crossed from the Fulham left and Ayité struck a shot which was blocked by any one of a number of Town defenders who were charging him down. The Cottagers continued to press and Ryan Fredericks crossed from the right and Jordan Spence turned behind at the far post.
A minute later at the other end McGoldrick charged down a Bettinelli clearance but screwed his shot well wide.
However, Fulham, so impressive as they won 2-0 at Portman Road on Boxing Day, were starting to get their passing going and were beginning to create chances and on 15 Martin bundled wide at the near post from another Fredericks cross when the former Norwich man will feel he should have scored.
But the Craven Cottage crowd didn’t have to wait too much longer for a goal. Ayité crossed from the right, Martin hit a low shot which Bialkowski did well to save down to his right but was only able to push into the path of Ayité, who followed up to net from close range.
Town looked to get straight back on terms but Grant Ward was only able to head Freddie Sears’s cross from the left into the arms of Bettinelli.
Sears caused another moment of panic in the Fulham defence in the 21st minute when he out-muscled Michael Madl on the right of the area but the ball ran through to Bettinelli.
There was a bigger scare for the Blues within a minute when Bialkowski’s weak kick fell to a Fulham player but fortunately for the Town keeper the home side were unable to make anything of it and he gratefully pounced on it in his area as Toumani Diagouraga saw the ball back to him.
On 28 McGoldrick - with the use of a hand according to Fulham - sent Sears away down the right but the former West Ham man hit his shot into the side-netting.
Two minutes later the Blues found them two goals behind. Following an interchange of passes on the Fulham left after a throw-in Malone broke into the area and confidently passed a low shot into the corner of the net beyond Bialkowski.
On 37 Kevin McDonald was booked for pulling back McGoldrick as the Town number 10 turned away from him midway inside the Fulham half.
Bialkowski was forced into action again two minutes later when McDonald hit a shot from the edge of the box which the Blues’ keeper pushed away from his top corner. Fredericks subsequently hit a scuffed effort into the Town box which was cleared.
A minute before the break, the Blues should have pulled a goal back. Myles Kenlock crossed from the left and after Spence had challenged in the air the loose ball fell to McGoldrick, who worked himself space before stabbing against the outside of the post. The Irish international clearly knew it was a big chance to have spurned.
After Bialkowski had just about held on to a Johansen shot from distance, referee Geoff Eltringham ended a half in which was even enough in the early stages but by the quarter-hour mark the home side had started to find their flow and had been threatening prior to their goals.
Town threatened fleetingly usually through Sears on the break, while McGoldrick had also caused the Cottagers’ backline problems, most notably the late chance before the break which the Blues will almost certainly rue having passed up.
Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Malone, McDonald, Cairney (c), Ayité, Johansen, Madl, Aluko, Martin, Kalas. Subs: Button, Kebano, Parker, Cyriac, Ream, Piazon, Sessegnon.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers (c), Berra, Smith, Kenlock, Diagouraga, Ward, Huws, Sears, McGoldrick. Subs: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Williams, Lawrence, Samuel, Pitman. Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).
Photo: Action Images
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