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Fulham 2-5 Derby LCup 04 1415 The Guardian

last updated Wednesday 29th October 2014, 11:30 PM

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James Riach at The Guardian

Fulham (2) 2-5 (1) Derby

If Shahid Khan and Fulham's powers that be are after entertainment, then Kit Symons may have the managerial job sewn up.

Symons, though, will not have derived much pleasure from this thrilling encounter, his side squandering a comfortable lead to concede five goals in 20 minutes either side of half-time as Derby romped into the quarter-finals with some swagger.

It had all been going so well for Fulham but Symons was unable to deliver another victory as caretaker.

He is set to find out this week whether he will be appointed on a full-time basis and will hope Khan - soon to arrive in London for talks - looks to the positives that emerged from the first half here rather than a woeful collapse during the second.

Derby were 2-0 down following a double from Moussa Dembélé but responded magnificently in the second half. Steve McClaren had sent his side out early and they emerged a team reborn, proving too hot for Fulham's fledgling backline and fully warranting their place in the last eight.

McClaren, who invited Symons to train for his pro licence at Twente when he was manager of the Dutch club, said the performance was a response to Derby's defeat against Wigan at the weekend. "It was good to have this game. We used the squad and we wanted this reaction," said McClaren. "Credit to Kit Symons and Fulham, they were excellent.

"If they don't give him the job tomorrow I'll be very surprised. He's got great calmness and that's a great quality in a coach. The second half was more like us. There was nothing at half-time said apart from 'we've got a lifeline'."

Symons made eight changes to the side that comfortably beat Charlton in the Championship on Friday night and McClaren also tinkering with five alterations of his own.

Dembélé's opener was not engineered by Fulham craft or guile, but rather the result of an unfortunate back-pass from the Derby left-back, Craig Forsyth, whose terrible ball back to Roos - without looking at the intended target - found a lurking Dembélé in the clear.

Minutes after Johnny Russell failed to beat Gabor Kiraly, Dembélé had his second of the night. It was another terrible defensive mix-up, Roos feeding the ball to Omar Mascarell from a goal-kick with the young midfielder surrounded by white shirts. Bryan Ruiz put a decisive foot in to allow Dembélé another easy finish.

It looked a job well done for Fulham but moments later Tim Hoogland handled a Derby free-kick from the left to concede a clear penalty. Chris Martin rifled the ball into the top corner to record his seventh goal in as many games and cap a frenetic finish to the half that sparked the astonishing turnaround.

"It was very disappointing," said Symons. "In the first half we were well and truly in the game, we slightly shaded it. The goal right on the stroke of half-time gave Derby a huge lift. Top teams don't need lifts like that. It's a very, very harsh lesson."

On his position at the club Symons added: "I'm hopeful the decision's getting closer and it won't be too far away. I understand and respect the process that is in place. It's not the easiest situation in the world but I'm hoping the owner and the panel will see I'm not working in the easiest circumstances."

Derby's momentum did not waver after half-time. Soon they were level, Russell this time finding the decisive finish to beat Kiraly at his near post from close range, after Simon Dawkins pulled the ball across goal.

Fulham, who had previously looked relatively assured, simply capitulated. Dawkins had a moment of his own to savour in the 54th minute, when he scored his first of two.

The midfielder received the ball from Craig Bryson in an advanced position down the left but there was still work to be done as he approached the penalty area. Dawkins cut inside and made room with a crucial extra touch before unleashing a vicious shot that arced into Kiraly's top corner.

It turned out to be the first of two goals for him but Derby's fourth came from Hendrick, lashing the ball into the net from close range in the 62nd minute.

Derby were rampant and poured forward once again. Dawkins then scored the pick of their goals with a n exquisite backheeled finish from a Russell cross. It capped a frantic spell and completed a remarkable turnaround.

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