Fulham 2 Preston North End 0 - Match report on a second away defeat of the week for the Lilywhites

Preston North End went down to a second away defeat in five days to a promotion rival as they were beaten by Fulham at Craven Cottage.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 29th February 2020, 5:19 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th February 2020, 5:24 pm

The Lilywhites produced performances which contrasted greatly between the first and second halves.

In the first half they were bright, lively and pressed well, having the better chances - Sean Maguire had the ball in the net but saw it ruled out for offside.

The second 45 minutes was a different affair, North End offering little going forward as the Cottagers got a control of the game and ultimately won it.

Preston's Sean Maguire has the ball in the net against Fulham but the effort was ruled out for offside

Fulham got a slice of good fortune to take the lead, David Nugent heading into his own net in the 58th minute as he tried to cut out a corner from Anthony Knockaert.

It looked like that would prove suffice to give them victory but the hosts got a second deep into stoppage-time, counter-attacking after a North End corner.

Substitute Aboubakar Kamara broke clear to score, that probably a layer of glass which didn't reflect the full piece.

Defeat in London followed the loss by the same scoreline to West Bromwich Albion last Tuesday night.

Preston striker David Nugent challenges withFulham defender Denis Odoi

While they held on to sixth spot, the importance of next week's Deepdale clash with Queens Park Rangers has grown.

The one change made by Alex Neil from the defeat at West Bromwich Albion was enforced, Brad Potts replacing Ben Pearson who was out injured.

Potts started as the No.10 in the 4-2-3-1 system, Alan Browne and Daniel Johnson starting further back in midfield.

North End made a very bright to the game at a three-sided ground - the Cottagers are currently redeveloping their stadium.

PNE substitute Scott Sinclair is tackled by Fulham centre-half Michael Hector

A great move on the counter attack almost brought a seventh-minute breakthrough, Ben Davies breaking-up a Fulham move and playing the ball forward to find Nugent who in turn slipped a pass out to Tom Barkhuizen on the right-wing.

Barkhuizen hared towards the byline and pulled back a low cross which keeper Marek Rodak tried to cut out but couldn't hold.

It ran into the path of Potts who saw his shot blocked by centre-half Michael Hector.

PNE had the ball in the net in the 10th minute, Johnson's corner from the left flicked across the box by Nugent for Maguire to arrive at the far post and side-foot home from close range.

However, the flag went up against the Irishman for offside and it was chalked off.

Browne had a shot which bounced into the turf saved by Rodek, Barkhuizen having found him with a cross.

The first Fulham attempt on the Preston goal saw Knockaert's header comfortably gathered by Declan Rudd.

Then Bobby Reid was played into space down the right hand side of the box but pulled his low shot wide of the near post.

Patrick Bauer put a header wide at the far post from another Barkhuizen centre, the German having stayed up field after a corner had been partly cleared.

Knockaert could count himself lucky not to have got a red card when he pushed Darnell Fisher in the face after the ball had gone out of play in front of the dug outs.

Referee David Webb deemed a warning sufficient when other officials might not have been so lenient.

Four minutes before the interval, a neat piece of passing from North End down the left made room for Andrew Hughes to send over a cross.

It dropped in the box and bounced around before Browne had a swing and saw his shot saved by Rodek.

In the 45th minute, substitute Cyrus Christie got room to the right of goal and hit a low shot which Rudd dived to hold.

Fulham made the better start to the second half and took the lead in the most fortunate of circumstances just before the hour mark.

Knockaert's corner from the right flicked off Nugent's head as he jumped at the near post and flew across goal into the far top corner.

Nugent was later to be replaced by Jayden Stockley, with Scott Sinclair joining the action in place of Maguire.

two chances fell the way of Christie for the home side in quick succession, his 74th minute shot deflecting behind for a corner.

When the flag kick was headed back across goal it fell to the substitute who blasted over the bar.

North End offered little going forward in the second half, their only chance being a Hughes header from substitute Josh Harrop's free-kick which Rodak pushed out.

When they won a corner in the fourth minute of stoppage-time, all the PNE players piled forward into the box.

Harrop's corner stayed low, Johnson had a shot blocked and the ball broke to Kamara outside the box.

He sprinted clear and as the North End defence tried to get back to cover, Kamara swapped passes with Ivan Cavaleiro before firing home.

Fulham: Rodak, Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan (Christie 9), Cairney, Arter (McDonald 90), Knockaert (Kamara 77), Decordova-Reid, Cavaleiro, Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Kebano, Johansen, Sessegnon, Bettinelli.

PNE: Rudd, Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes, Browne, Potts (Harrop 84), Barkhuizen, Johnson, Maguire Sinclair 72), Nugent (Stockley 66). Subs (not used): Clarke, Ledson, Huntington, Ripley.

Referee: David Webb (County Durham)

Attendance: 19,020 (1,964 PNE)