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Fulham 2-1 Blackburn Cham 06 1516 - Lancashire Telegraph

last updated Monday 14th September 2015, 5:21 PM

Lancashire Telegraph
Paul Wheelock at Lancashire Telegraph

Fulham (2) 2-1 (0) Blackburn

ROVERS were denied a point their second-half dominance deserved after the officials failed to spot a clear equaliser.

There were four minutes of normal time remaining when captain Grant Hanley's fortuitous effort patently crossed the line.

But play was allowed to continue and Fulham hung on for a win that looked a formality after they took a fully merited two-goal lead into the break courtesy of Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele.

Rovers, whose defending for both goals was abysmal, improved greatly after the restart and finally beat the outstanding Andy Lonergan in the 68th minute when Jordan Rhodes scored his first goal of the campaign from the penalty spot.

But Gary Bowyer's side could not find a way to level the thrilling contest and they remain in the bottom three after their winless start to the Championship season stretched to six matches.

Rovers boss Bowyer made two changes to the team that started the 0-0 home draw with Bolton Wanderers before the international break.

One was enforced, with former Fulham midfielder Danny Guthrie replacing Jason Lowe, who has suffered a fresh foot injury, but the other was not, as goalkeeper Jason Steele was recalled in place of teenager David Raya, who had started the season as Bowyer's first choice.

Ex-Rover Ryan Tunnicliffe played in Dembele, who easily beat Hanley for power and pace before pulling the ball back for his strike-partner McCormack to lift it into the net.

Rovers attempted to muster an immediate response with Craig Conway standing a cross up to the back post which Rhodes headed over.

But it was Fulham who were looking the likelier and after another former Rovers midfielder, Tom Cairney, cut inside and crossed to the back post, McCormack tested Steele at his near post with a fierce chest-trap-and-volley.

Rovers were at sixes and sevens, and Dembele could and should have turned in a McCormack cross. They did, however, pass up an excellent opportunity to equalise in the 15th minute when Ben Marshall opened up the home defence with a pass through to Nathan Delfouneso.

But the striker failed to get a clean connection on his shot and Lonergan pushed the ball to safety.

Then it was Rovers' turn to breathe a sigh of relief when McCormack whistled the ball past the far post after Dembele set him free down the channel.

At the other end Rhodes laid the ball off for Marshall to drag a 20-yarder past the upright.

But Fulham got the second goal they deserved on the half-hour.

McCormack crossed to the back post where Tunnicliffe saved from Steele, who then denied Cairney on the follow-up.

But, with Rovers standing and watching, the ball dropped to Dembele and he hammered it into the roof of the net.

The visitors could not complain, they had been distinctly second best.

But they did get better in the final 15 minutes of the first half and they would have reduced the deficit, at least, had it not been for Lonergan.

The former Bolton keeper saved from Conway and Corry Evans from distance before he saw a diving Hanley header from a Conway corner flash just over the bar.

But Lonergan excelled himself in the 43rd minute when he got low down to his right to prevent Marshall's powerful header, from an Evans cross, from finding the bottom corner.

And, with Fode Koita on for Delfouneso, Rovers went closer still two minutes after the restart.

Conway played in Marshall down the line and he slid the ball across the six-yard box where Rhodes, under pressure from James Husband, could only nudge it on to the outside of the post.

Rhodes then headed over a Koita cross that proved a little too high and powerful.

But he should have done better than head straight at Lonergan on the line after Conway crossed to the back post.

Rovers were transformed and peppering the Fulham goal.

But Lonergan continued to stand firm, saving superbly after Guthrie had squared to Conway, who cut inside and for all the world must have thought his right-footed curler had found the top corner.

Lonergan, however, was finally beaten 22 minutes from time.

Rhodes was pushed in the box by Husband and he picked himself up to send the overworked Fulham stopper the wrong way from the spot.

That sparked the hosts back into life and only a brave block from Duffy stopped Cairney from troubling Steele.

Rovers had lost their way a little. However they regained the initiative and wasted a great chance to equalise 11 minutes from time when Conway scooped the ball over after Lonergan had punched a Tommy Spurr throw into the winger's path.

Fulham's goal was leading a charmed line and they should have lost their lead in the 86th minute.

A downward Duffy header was hacked off the line by Jazz Richards. His clearance, however, rebounded off Hanley and clearly crossed the line before Jamie O'Hara hooked the ball away.

Undeterred, Rovers continued to pile forward and Koita rattled the post with a ferocious strike before Steele flew to his right to save from Dembele at the other end.

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