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Fulham hit four to end Notts Co dream

last updated Monday 15th February 2010, 1:09 PM
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Simon Burnton at The Guardian

Fulham 4 Notts County 0

The dream really is over now for Notts County, whose dalliance with fame and mysterious fortunes appears finally to have crumbled in the course of a week that sadly saw more drama off the pitch than they were able to produce on it.

The sale of the club to Ray Trew on Thursday and the exit of Sven-Goran Eriksson marked the end of a brief and, for all the hype, disappointing attempt to transform it into an unlikely football superpower.

The FA Cup offered another shot at glory and that has now gone as well.

All that remains is the less glamorous gruel of League Two, albeit with a decent chance of an escape from it when the season ends.

"We've thoroughly enjoyed our Cup run, make no mistake," their caretaker manager, Dave Kevan, said.

"We had a fantastic day here and a fantastic day at Wigan [where they won in the fourth round] but our priority was always promotion and that's what we're fully focused on."

Few who saw this display would bet against it, despite the one-sided scoreline.

County had won six of their previous eight games and were more than competitive for an hour of this one before, already two goals down, they collectively lost focus.

"They were fantastic," said Kevan of his players. "They worked tremendously hard, created some good chances.

I'm very proud of how they played.

Fulham thoroughly deserved their win but I thought the scoreline flattered them." Kevan added that Eriksson had phoned him before kick-off: "He said we could beat them."

"We had them watched and the reports were very good," said the Fulham ­manager, Roy Hodgson.

"Their record recently has been quite phenomenal, so we knew their quality of football would belie their league position.

They gave us a good game. This was a real banana skin and I'm delighted we didn't slip on it."

For the second successive year Fulham have reached the FA Cup quarter-final, though their progress has been aided by a succession of kind draws - when they play Tottenham or Bolton in the next round it will be the first time they have been forced to play a side from either of the top two divisions.

They started ominously, creating a decent chance within two minutes as Bobby Zamora collected Chris Baird's pass on the right of the penalty area and shot just wide of the far post.

But County, encouraged by an impressive travelling support, quickly proved themselves organised and able.

They might themselves have scored a couple by half-time but Mark Schwarzer saved excellently after Craig Westcarr turned Baird rather too easily - twice - before shooting low across goal, and Lee Hughes twice missed presentable opportunities, shooting weakly when Jamie Clapham's shot deflected to him and heading high when found unmarked by Ben Davies's corner.

If Fulham only occasionally displayed their class, they invariably scored when they did.

After 22 minutes Simon Davies made a run inside from the left, Danny Murphy chipped a pass perfectly into his path and Davies shielded the ball from John Thompson before surprising Kasper Schmeichel with an early and perfectly angled shot into the far corner.

Then in the 41st minute David Elm prodded a first-time pass to Zamora, who controlled smartly on his chest before scoring with the outside of his left foot.

Their first-half efforts having gone unrewarded, County faded in the second half and offered little more than a succession of not particularly dangerous long-range efforts from Davies.

Fulham relaxed and had started the process of replacing their more important players when Damien Duff cut inside Jonnie Jackson and shot through the full-back's legs and past Schmeichel.

Five minutes later Stefano Okaka, who had only just replaced Zamora, raced through to add a fourth.
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