Fulham bounced back from a disappointing defeat at Hartlepool by beating Rochdale at Spotland tonight – but manager Micky Adams admitted his side were fortunate to take all three points back to London.

The Cottagers made the perfect start by hitting the front in the very first minute. A long throw from Rob Scott caused chaos in the Dale box and, after Mike Conroy’s effort had been blocked, Nick Cusack was on hand to bury the rebound to send the 200 travelling fans into raptures. But that was all the Fulham fans had to cheer as Rochdale dominated the first half, hitting the woodwork three times, and failing to test Mark Walton regularly in goal.

Having soaked up a prolonged period of home pressure, Fulham scored a crucial second. That man Conroy put his head in where it might have hurt to glance Martin Thomas’ cross into the net with twenty minutes to play. Adams’ side initially began to play confident football after that, but they were forced onto the defensive once with ten minutes to play when Steve Whitehall forced a grandstand finale by turning a close-range finish past Tony Lange after Mark Leonard had climbed highest to guide a header back across goal.

But the Whites held on to move up to fifth in the embryonic Division Three table.

ROCHDALE: Johnson; Fensome, Hill, Stuart (Thompson 58), Russell, Formby (Lancaster 75), Farrell, Gray, Whitehall, Leonard, Deary. Subs (not used): Bayliss.

BOOKED: Whitehall.

GOAL: Whitehall (80).

FULHAM: Lange; Watson (Thomas 45), Herrera (Angus 85), Cullip, Cusack, Blake, McAree (Freeman 45), Cockerill, Conroy, Morgan, Scott.

BOOKED: Cockerill, Angus.

GOALS: Cusack (1), Conroy (69).