United suffer 1-0 home defeat...
UNITED 0, FULHAM 1 (Rodallega 60).
United: Silvestri, Byram, Cooper, Pearce, Warnock (Berardi 89), Cook, Bianchi, Mowatt, Adryan (Dawson 76), Antenucci, Doukara (Sharp 60). Subs. S Taylor, Del Fabro, Tonge, Sloth.
Fulham: Kiraly, Grimmer, Bodurov, Hutchinson, Stafylidis, Christensen, Fofana (Zverotic 84), Hyndman, Ruiz, Rodallega (Woodrow 81), McCormack. Subs. Rodak, Burn, Kavanagh, Williams, Roberts.
Referee: S Duncan
Att: 27,264 (869 Fulham)
United head coach Neil Redfearn named an unchanged starting line-up from the side beaten at Ipswich seven days earlier as Fulham visited Elland Road, while Casper Sloth returned to the bench following an impressive midweek showing for the Under-21s. Rodolph Austin was initially named among the substitutes but limped out of the warm-up to be replaced by Chris Dawson.
The hosts looked to start on the front foot, Stephen Warnock fizzing a low ball across the face of goal after a well-worked move before Sam Byram fired inches wide of Gabor Kiraly’s post following Alex Mowatt’s neat through ball.
Adryan was then just unable to get the desired connection on Mowatt’s floated ball towards the back post as Redfearn’s side enjoyed the clearer sights of goal in the opening 20 minutes.
The best chance of the game came to Mowatt on 28 minutes as he rose inside the area to meet Byram’s right-wing cross, towering a header against the bar which cannoned back off the sprawling Kiraly and behind for a corner.
Fulham were starting to see more of the ball without truly threatening Marco Silvestri. Warnock and Lewis Cook both needed to stand firm inside the area to clear after Ross McCormack had headed for the byline, but the game appeared to be entering somewhat of a lull.
Mowatt drilled over from range as United looked to pick up the tempo, while Liam Cooper was called into action at the opposite end to steal the ball off McCormack’s toes after the striker was found unmarked inside the area.
Byram broke forward again down the right and drilled straight at Kiraly after being teed up by Adryan, before Fulham’s first shot on target of the afternoon came in first-half stoppage time, Seko Fofana firing into Silvestri’s arms, as the game remained goalless at the break.
Both sides returned unchanged from the interval and it was Fulham who had the first sight of goal, Silvestri clutching Kostas Stafylidis’ low effort, while Adryan’s audacious attempt at an over-head kick bounced wide in a lively start to the second half.
Byram smashed a half-volley over as United continued to probe for an opener. The deadlock was broken on the hour mark by Fulham, though, Hugo Rodallega turning in Lasse Vigen Christensen’s cutback from the right.
The goal prompted Redfearn into his first change of the afternoon, Billy Sharp replacing Souleymane Doukara in attack as his side looked to mount a quick response. Adryan drilled into Kiraly’s arms from outside the box before the Brazilian was inches away from meeting Sharp’s cross.
Dawson replaced Adryan on 76 minutes and with United throwing men forward, gaps were appearing which Fulham looked to exploit on the break. Rodallega blasted over after being played into the area as the game entered its closing 10 minutes.
Dawson then saw his effort blocked in front of goal after wriggling into the area. Four minutes of stoppage time were added on but it proved to be a frustrating afternoon for United as they were condemned to a first home defeat since October.