Fulham 3 Preston North End 0 match report: PNE unwanted guests at Fulham's promotion party

Preston North End conceded three first-half goals as they failed to halt Fulham’s march back to the Premier League.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 9:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 10:05 pm

Their old foe Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice for the Cottagers either side of a Fabio Carvalho goal, the game over as a contest well before half-time as the Championship leaders confirmed promotion.

In the first half especially, North End failed to show and it was too easy for the home side.

They’d actually started well, with good chances falling to Ched Evans and Ben Whiteman.

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Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic gets past Preston North End defender Liam Lindsay at Craven Cottage

But a Mitrovic opener signalled the start of a long night for Ryan Lowe’s men, the Serbia international’s brace taking his season’s tally to 40 goals.

PNE were a little better in the second half but it was too little too late.

Cameron Archer saw a shot pushed on to the bar but had it not been for Daniel Iversen at the other end, Fulham could have added to their tally.

The North End side starting XI had shown four changes to the Good Friday’s draw with Millwall, Liam Lindsay, Ali McCann, Evans and Josh Earl coming into the side.

Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrovic scores the opening goal against Preston North End at Craven Cottage

Alan Browne and Patrick Bauer were missing through injury, with Greg Cunningham and Sean Maguire dropping to the bench.

It was PNE who made the better start and had two big sights of goal to take an early lead.

In the fifth minute Daniel Johnson’s pass played in Archer down the right side of the box, probably on too much of an angle to have a shot.

Archer squared the ball inside to Evans whose shot deflected off a Fulham defender and forced keeper Marek Rodak to claw the ball away.

Preston North End midfielder Ali McCann battles with Fulham's Fabio Carvalho at Craven Cottage

Rodak was called into action again a couple of minutes later, Whiteman’s shot from 20 yards clipping Tim Ream’s boot and the keeper had to tip it over the bar.

However, the direction of traffic changed soon after and it became a night of toil for North End.

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Fulham took the lead in the 10th minute, Joe Bryan winning the ball off Brad Potts and McCann on the home side’s left-wing – Potts perhaps having a case that he got a bit of a shove.

Fulham striker Fabio Carvalho scores his sides second goal against Preston North End at Craven Cottage

Bryan cut in field and slipped the ball into Mitrovic who went past Lindsay and drove a shot through Iversen’s legs.

PNE lost Evans’ services in the 25th minute, the striker limping off after trying to battle on after getting a knock, Maguire coming off the bench.

The Cottagers scored their second in the 34th minute, Neeskens Kebano cutting inside off the left and feeding a pass into the box which clipped Lindsay’s foot and fell into the path of Carvalho who lifted a first-time finish over Iversen into the roof of the net.

North End fell into a pattern of giving the ball away far too often which made their task so much the harder.

Iversen saved with his legs at the near post after Bryan had drilled a low ball in from the left but was helpless to keep out Fulham’s third goal three minutes before half-time.

Harry Wilson took possession outside the box and played in Mitrovic who had far too much space to shoot low into the net.

Earl was substituted at half-time and replaced by Bambo Diaby, that move seeing Andrew Hughes move out to the left wing-back role with Diaby in the middle of the back three.

Both sides struck the woodwork within a minute of one another early in the second half.

Johnson’s pass found Archer in the box, the striker’s curling right-foot shot pushed on to the bar by Rodak.

The chance at the other end was gifted by North End, Diaby’s pass across the pitch to Lindsay intercepted by Mitrovic who ran through one-on-one with Iversen.

He tried to out-fox Iversen as he moved towards the box but his low shot hit Iversen’s foot and looped up against the bar.

Iversen then saved in quick succession, first from Carvalho’s shot on the angle, then diving to parry Mitrovic’s deflected follow-up.

A PNE break up field saw Johnson lift a shot just wide of the target from the edge of the box.

Whiteman lifted a free-kick from the edge of the ‘D’ just over the bar.

Scott Sinclair was introduced as North End’s final substitute, replacing Potts. That saw a change to a a 4-3-3 system, SInclair and Archer either side of Maguire up front.

The final whistle brought a pitch invasion from the home fans as they celebrated their Premier League return.

Fulham: Rodak, Williams, Adarabioyo, Ream, Bryan, Cairney, Reed (Seri 70), Wilson, Kebano, Carvalho (Cordova-Reid 75), Mitrovic (Muniz 77). Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Hector, Chalobah, Seri, Robinson.

PNE: Iversen, Van den Berg, Lindsay, Hughes, Whiteman, Potts (Sinclair70), McCann, Johnson, Earl (Diaby 46), Evans (Maguire 25), Archer. Subs (not used): Hudson, Cunningham, Rafferty, Huntington.

Referee: Leigh Doughty (Lancashire)