Fulham 4-1 Hull FAC Rnd04 1617 - The Guardian

last updated Monday 30th January 2017, 12:16 AM


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Dominic Fifield at The Guardian


Fulham (1) 4-1 (0) Hull City FAC Rnd04


There was a gulf in class in evidence on the banks of the Thames but it was not one which conformed to the perceived natural order.

Fulham of the Championship humiliated Hull City here to take their place in the fifth round, slickly carving apart opponents from the elite whose patched-up side wilted dismally in the drizzle.

Perhaps this result could have been anticipated given how depleted the visitors had been rendered by injuries and player sales.

But, even so, the manner of the defeat was still brutally embarrassing.

They were torn apart by a 16 year old full back, the outstanding Ryan Sessegnon, and bullied by a centre forward in Chris Martin whose own club’s supporters spent almost an hour booing his every touch before those jeers gave way to cheers.

If that was not unconventional enough the hosts’ second-choice goalkeeper, Marcus Bettinelli, saves a pair of Abel Hernandez penalties – the second thrillingly – within two minutes as Hull’s FA Cup campaign fizzled out.

At times it was hard to fathom what might happen next so outlandish were most of the plot-lines, though the home side’s victory never really felt in doubt. Sessegnon’s reward, and his team’s third goal, summed up their dominance as Lucas Piazon and Martin combined, all clever movement and neat one-touch passing, to send the teenager scurrying into the area. His clipped finish via Eldin Jakupovic’s attempt to save oozed class.

The full-back has the vision and creation of a playmaker in the making and he was irresistible here. So, too, were Tom Cairney and Sone Aluko, rampaging forward against his former club. And Piazon and the forward-thinking Stefan Johansen. There is attacking class aplenty in these ranks.

Martin, for all his lack of pace, completes them with his movement, work-rate and touch even if he will remain unsettled over the final six months of his loan spell from Derby.

His parent club, as they are within their rights to do, chose to announce the striker had signed a new contract through to 2020 on the eve of this tie, a player who had agitated to return to the east Midlands at the end of last month further aggravating the situation by proclaiming a desire to play for Steve McClaren again “as soon as possible”.

Yet there is no recall in his season-long loan and no intention at Fulham to allow a key performer to depart back to a direct competitor for a play-off place.

The uncomfortable situation has understandably irked the locals with Martin’s name booed before kick-off and the chorus of dissent repeated at his every touch thereafter.

Yet, through his sheer industry leading the line, he was winning some of the dissenters round long before Aluko liberated Sessegnon beyond Omar Elabdellaoui; the youngster squared for Martin to tap into an empty net.

When the Scotland forward departed seven minutes from time the applause drowned out the lingering catcalls.

“He showed commitment to the club today,” Slavisa Jokanovic said. “I do understand why Derby would want this player back. They believe he is one of the best strikers in our dressing room. I believe the same. We have an option for next season and you never know what will happen.”

That reference to the £9m fee written into the loan arrangement last summer was mischievous given the new deal Martin has now signed back at Derby.

Yet he must surely enjoy playing in this attack minded team. He had watched Aluko volley the hosts ahead, connecting emphatically with Tomas Kalas’s header back across goal, and played his part in the team’s fourth goal once Hull’s resistance had disintegrated. It was Martin’s pass which was collected by Cairney, with Johansen’s shot flying in via a deflection.

The visitors, so disciplined at Chelsea last week and victors over Manchester United on Thursday, had hauled themselves level just after the interval with Evandro’s diving header but parity was a deception.

This lineup always semed stretched and fatigue set in before the end. The highlight of Marco Silva’s latest trip to south-west London was probably seeing Ryan Mason smile in a visit to St Mary’s hospital before the match as the midfielder continues his recovery from the horrific head injury sustained at Stamford Bridge last week.

That represents progress, but too much of his team’s play here was a regression to the worrying form during the latter days of Mike Phelan’s tenure. Curtis Davies had limped away injured early on and Hernandez’s confidence will have been battered by the late spot kicks he missed, Bettinelli having tripped the Uruguayan as he sought to convert the rebound from the goalkeeper’s first block.

“We need to put more quality players in our squad, maybe three or four,” Silva saids. His club face a busy and critical 48 hours before deadline.























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