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Fulham 3-2 Notts Forest Cham 31 1617 - Daily Mail

last updated Wednesday 15th February 2017, 9:52 AM

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Adam Shergold at Daily Mail

Fulham (2) 3-2 (1) Nottingham Forest

At this crucial stage in the season, when players are drawing on their reserves of strength as the game comes thick and fast, it helps to have a handy impact sub.

In Neeskens Kebano, Fulham seem to have found a very good one and, for the second time in four days, he won them three precious points in their mission to reach the Championship play-offs.

Having fired home a stoppage time winner against Wigan on Saturday, the Congolese stepped from the bench to score here and nudge Nottingham Forest a little closer to the relegation dogfight.

Seventeen minutes remained when Kebano won his race with Forest goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic inside the penalty area, his outstretched boot getting a crucial touch that hit Jack Hobbs and spun into the net.

That moment settled another entertaining contest here at Craven Cottage in which Fulham oscillated from the sublime to the ridiculous but ultimately claimed a deserved win.

Having trailed to a second-minute opener from Pajtim Kasami, Slavisa Jokanovic's side landed two quick-fire blows to lead thanks to Tom Cairney and Lucas Piazon.

Ben Brereton levelled for Forest straight after the break but the introduction of Kebano from the bench again proved inspired and his two winners this week may yet define the outcome of Fulham's season.

You wouldn't have guessed at the performance to come by the slipshod way that Fulham started out here.

The hosts seemed barely capable of stringing two passes together in the opening minutes and trailed Forest within two minutes.

Gary Brazil's much-changed team needed a confidence boost after Saturday's 5-1 thrashing at Norwich and they were handed it.

With Fulham daftly trying to mimic Barcelona by passing out from the back, it required just one loose touch to send the ball spiralling towards Craven Cottage old boy Kasami.

The Swiss still had plenty to do but, in one fluid motion, he spun and half-volleyed the ball crisply across David Button and into the far corner.

Fulham's sloppiness characterised the first 20 minutes or so and the usually passive crowd grew increasingly annoyed at them, especially when Button's mis-hit clearance fell to Ben Osborn, who mercifully couldn't get enough lift on his 35-yard shot.

But in a flash Fulham snapped out of their funk and started playing the brand of incisive football Jokanovic has been trying to develop here and the style they hope will trouble Tottenham in the FA Cup this weekend.

Suddenly every pass was finding its target and soon Fulham were slicing through the fragile Forest defence. After warning shots from Ryan Sessegnon and Sone Aluko, the equaliser seemed inevitable.

Just after the half-hour, Sessegnon was sprung down the left and, glancing up into the box, picked out Cairney from near the byline. The captain wasn't going to make any mistake from there, sweeping the ball beyond Vladimir Stojkovic.

Forest barely had time to recover their breath before they fell behind less than three minutes later. Floyd Ayite fed a pass to Piazon, who dribbled between two Forest challenges on the edge of the area, then left a third statuesque defender for dead before rolling the ball home left-footed.

It was a moment of Brazilian brilliance and all the troubles of earlier had suddenly melted away.

But they would return immediately after the restart as Forest wasted little time in getting themselves level. Daniel Fox broke free down the left and swung in a pinpoint cross from which Brereton powered a superb header into the bottom corner.

And they seemed to be queuing up to score just before the hour after Brereton retrieved the ball and Kasami eventually fired into the side-netting after three others had tried to work space. But Fulham found a strength of character to come again and when Kebano struck, there was no way back.

While Fulham are looking up, Forest are glancing over their shoulder, with seven points separating them and the drop zone.

Caretaker manager Brazil said: 'I thought we did enough to get a draw. We need to show a bit of game savvy.'

Fulham boss Jokanovic said: 'It wasn't our best day, we didn't play a brilliant game and we made a soft start. But we overcame it to win.'

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