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Fulham go through

last updated Sunday 03rd January 2010, 1:14 PM
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Barry Flatman at The Times

Fulham 1 Swindon 0

WITH VICTORIES against Manchester United and Liverpool as well as a successful European campaign to eulogise for the Craven Cottage faithful in recent weeks, an FA Cup tussle with League One Swindon Town might have been viewed as a journey back down to earth.

However, home defender Chris Smalling viewed it as the perfect opportunity to demonstrate just how bright his future promises to be.

Smalling is tall and poised, and proof that there are still riches to be found in the lower leagues after being signed from Maidstone United 18 months ago.

He never once looked like a player who believed he was down on his luck after scoring an own goal that presented Premier League leaders Chelsea with a win five days ago.

Instead he was the most assured player on the field, admirably filling the void left by the injured Brede Hangeland and linking perfectly with his captain, Aaron Hughes, to form a composed central defensive partnership that Swindon never looked like breaching.

Swindon's top scorer, Billy Paynter, was rendered largely ineffectual and Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer did not have a testing shot to save.

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson chose not to get over-excited about Smalling's contribution, claiming it was what he had come to expect.

Hodgson was more lucid on the tame way Andy Johnson, making his first start since being ruled out by injury in early October, squandered the chance to double Fulham's lead from the penalty spot.

Bobby Zamora gave Fulham a 16th-minute lead, collecting a pass from Stephen Kelly to score his sixth goal in seven games.

Johnson looked set to follow suit after being upended by goalkeeper David Lucas but tamely scuffed his shot.

Star man: Chris Smalling (Fulham)

Yellow card: Swindon: Lucas

Referee: A Taylor

Attendance: 19,623

FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Kelly 7, Hughes 7, Smalling 8, Konchesky 7, Riise 7, Dikgacoi 5, Greening 6, Dempsey 5, Zamora 7, Johnson 5 (Gera 82min)

SWINDON TOWN: Lucas 7, Amankwaah 6, Cuthbert 6, Greer 6, Sheehan 6, McGovern 5, Douglas 7, Ferry 6, Hutchinson 5 (Macklin 64min), Ward 5 (Timlin 85min), Paynter 6
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