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Fulham 1-2 Bristol City Cham 37 1516- Bristol Post

last updated Monday 14th March 2016, 3:00 PM

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A Stockhausen at Bristol Post

Fulham (1) 1-2 (0) Bristol City

LEE Tomlin's brilliant free kick earned Bristol City a dramatic last-gasp 2-1 victory over fellow Championship strugglers Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Trailing to Ross McCormack's superb third-minute strike, the Robins looked to be heading to a third straight defeat.

But head coach Lee Johnson sent on Bobby Reid and debutant striker Peter Odemwingie at the start of the second half and saw his side mount an inspired rescue operation by the banks of the Thames.

Marlon Pack grabbed a 69th minute equaliser, scoring his first goal of the season with a low shot into the corner to send nearly 4,000 travelling fans into ecstacy.

And Tomlin then provided the icing on the cake, his superb 90th minute free kick beating Fulham keeper Andy Lonergan to earn the Robins a fourth away win in five outings.

Victory carried City four points clear of the relegation zone on a day when fellow strugglers Bolton, MK Dons and Rotherham all dropped points.

But City owed their point to goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell, who pulled off a sensational one-handed save to deny Ryan Tunnicliffe during the closing stages.

City had an opportunity to take the lead in the very first minute, Joe Bryan running onto an incisive through ball from Scott Golbourne, only to direct his shot straight at Fulham keeper Lonergan, who spread himself to make a crucial save.

The home side required only a further 60 seconds to punish City's profligacy, surging down the other end of the pitch and exposing poor defending to take the lead in dramatic fashion.

Tom Cairney's straight ball from the halfway line sent McCormack scurrying clear of the covering defence and his finish, a deft chip over the advancing O'Donnell from an acute angle, proved unerring in its accuracy as the ball nestled in the far corner of the net.

It was the worst possible start for a City side beaten in its previous two outings and looking to restore confidence. Fulham tails were well and truly up and the Cottagers, sensing an opportunity to go for the jugular, threw men forward in search of a second goal.

Tunnicliffe shot wide from the edge of the penalty area and McCormack steered a free kick narrowly off-target as Fulham adopted a shoot on sight policy.

Unable to get to grips with the home side's pace and movement, City almost conceded again when Scott Parker fired in a shot from 18 yards and O'Donnell could only parry. The ball ran loose and Moussa Dembele went to ground under challenge from City's keeper. But referee Phil Gibbs was well-placed and waved away claims for a penalty.

After soaking up sustained pressure for best part of 30 minutes, the Robins finally managed to establish a foothold in the game and create a chance to equalise. Aden Flint applied his head to a long throw from Pack and a white-shirted defender managed to divert the ball behind for a corner.

Fulham carried far more threat going forward and McCormack came close to adding to his tally when sending a curling free kick inches over the cross bar.

Fulham squandered a half-time advantage when allowing Burnley to come from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at Craven Cottage in midweek and City, despite having been second best in the opening 45 minutes, were still very much in the game while McCormack's early strike was all that separated the two sides.

Deciding changes were needed, Johnson made a double substitution at the start of the second period, withdrawing Jonathan Kodjia and Luke Freeman and sending on Odemwingie and Bobby Reid. The switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation yielded instantaneous dividends, Lonergan saving from Lee Tomlin's shot, while Wilbraham headed inches over from a corner as City asserted themselves.

Forced to defend in depth, the home side nevertheless posed a serious threat on the counter-attack and O'Donnell had to rush from his line and save bravely at the feet of the on-rushing Dembele as the Robins were caught short at the back.

Looking to make a good first impr5ession on his debut, Odemwingie unleashed a powerful drive from the edge of the box that required Ryan Fredericks to put his body on the line and make a crucial block as City, benefiting from the extra man in midfield, established a foothold in the game.

The equaliser arrived on 69 minutes. City won the ball back in the centre of midfield and fed Pack on the edge of the 18 yard box. Nimbly side-stepping his marker, the midfielder let fly with a superb low drive that beat Lonergan to his right and found the bottom corner to even the contest up.

Nathan Baker then met a free kick with a downward header that drew a sprawling save from Lonergan as City, energised by the goal, went in search of a winner.

There was to be a dramatic twist in the tale and it was provided by Tomlin, who beat Lonergan all ends up with a brilliant free kick from 20 yards out in the final minute.

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