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Fulham 0-1 Wolves Cham 03 1415 Daily Mail

last updated Thursday 21st August 2014, 11:26 PM
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Adam Shergold at Daily Mail

Fulham (0) 0-1 (1) Wolves

Fulham's miserable return to the second tier shows no signs of improving as Bakary Sako's strike gave Wolves a thoroughly deserved win at Craven Cottage.

This was a tale of two teams seemingly heading in opposite directions. There was languid Fulham, still suffering a hangover from their Premier League demotion, and desperately lacking momentum, fluency and inspiration.

And upwardly mobile Wolves, who bossed the vast majority of the match and showed they are more than equipped to cope at this level following promotion from League One.

It was another agonising night for the Fulham faithful, who had already endured reality checks at Ipswich Town on the opening day and against Millwall on Saturday.

On this evidence, any hopes of an immediate return to the top flight are a mere pipedream and mid-table obscurity - or worse - lies in wait for them.

Frankly, they were fortunate it was just the one goal conceded. It was a smart one though, featuring the invention and imagination Fulham so sorely lacked.

'I can only ask for patience because we have a young team and I know it might be tough at the beginning of the season but I'm sure we're on the right way and it was the right decision,' Felix Magath said.

'We were one down, we tried to create chances but we were not strong enough. We had much more possession but not enough chances.'

Wolves boss Kenny Jackett, by contrast, is targeting consecutive promotions. He said: 'We are looking for one of three promotion places. Given our recent history in the Premier League and size of the support we can generate, we have to go for the top.'

A bright Wolves start was rewarded on the quarter-hour when Dave Edwards cleverly dummied a Scott Golbourne corner and Sako guided the ball into the bottom corner with his left foot.

It was an intelligently-worked set-piece and characteristic of Jackett's team, who were fast and dangerous on every attack.

They could still afford to smile despite Sako seeing a stoppage time penalty pushed on to the post by Joronen.

Fulham's American owner Shahid Khan was watching from the stands at Craven Cottage and he should be worried. After all, only crisis club Blackpool sit beneath them in the Championship standings after this.

Paying a visit after hearing of the back-to-back defeats, he would not have been too impressed by what he saw.

Magath once again shuffled his pack, making five changes from the Saturday's defeat and handing debuts to 20-year-old left-back Sean Kavanagh and summer acquisition Mark Fotheringham.

Ross McCormack, whose levels of fitness have clearly not impressed Magath since his £11m move from Leeds United, was handed another chance.

Wolves, by contrast, were unchanged from the team beaten at Rotherham United at the weekend and they set a quick tempo from the first whistle.

Dave Edwards came close early on when he flashed a fierce shot across the face of goal, before Kevin McDonald's ball over the top allowed Rajiv van La Parra to spring the offside trap. Goalkeeper Jesse Joronen raced from his line to get a vital touch.

But the bright Wolves start was rewarded when Sako found the net and the murmurs of discontent around the Cottage were audible.

Fulham had been completely bossed in the opening 20 minutes and when they did finally string enough passes together to muster a shot, Konstantinos Stafylidis blazed over.

Teenage tyro Patrick Roberts was handed his first start of the season and his bold runs at the heart of the Wolves defence offered optimism for the home fans.

On one such burst, he found McCormack wide on the right and his deep cross just evaded the head of Stafylidis. And the England Under 17 international was involved again in sparking a move that led to Sean Kavanagh's low cross being hacked clear by Richard Stearman right in front of goal.

But on the whole, it was frustrating for Fulham, with McCormack forced to drop deep in search of the ball and when a move broke down when he surrendered possession on the edge of the box, there were groans right around the ground.

Indeed, Wolves nearly doubled their lead when captain Danny Batth headed Sako's delightful whipped cross a fraction wide of the post and there were a few boos for Magath as the players went off for half-time.

Magath brought on 18-year-old Moussa Dembele for Fotheringham and he nearly made an instant impact with a driving run and low shot that Carl Ikeme turned aside.

Wolves had a golden opportunity to settle the contest when McDonald's tempting cross from the left was headed over by Matt Doherty at the back post with the goal gaping.

At the other end, on a rare Fulham attack, McCormack fired a couple of inches over the crossbar when the ball sat up nicely on the edge of the box.

Van La Parra then cut inside Kavanagh before finding the side netting and Wolves were always more likely to find a second rather than Fulham levelling.

Roberts did his best to ignite them, skipping a succession of Wolves challenges before over-hitting his through ball to Dembele.

It just about summed it all up as the pressure on Magath was cranked up another notch as a vocal section of the crowd chanted 'Felix out' at the final whistle.

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