Lowly Mansfield Town ended Fulham’s run of five consecutive league victories with a thoroughly deserved win at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
The visitors, who started the day just a place off the bottom of the Third Division table, weathered a strong Fulham start and were fortunate not to go behind after Mike Conroy had hit the post following a goalmouth scramble at a corner but quickly played some impressive football of their own. Mansfield took the lead five minutes before the break when Stuart Hadley lifted a finish high into the roof of the net from five yards out at the back post after the hosts had failed to deal with a corner.
Fulham did play with greater intensity after the interval but struggled to create much in the way of clear cut chances. Their best opening fell to full back Paul Watson, who blazed disappointingly into the Putney End after finding space inside the Mansfield box. The visitors grabbed the crucial second, having scored only twice in the seven fixtures that preceded this one, when Steve Harper cut in from the left and curled a right-footed effort home.
That secured Steve Parkin’s first league victory – even though skipper Simon Morgan did provide a consolation for Fulham in stoppage time.
FULHAM: Lange; Watson, Herrera, Cullip (McAree 57), Blake, Angus, Cockerill (Scott 20), Cusack, Morgan, Freeman (Brooker 57), Conroy.
BOOKED: Watson, Conroy.
GOAL: Morgan (90).
MANSFIELD TOWN: Bowling; Eustace, Hackett, Kerr (Harper 60), Doolan, Sedgemore, Sale, Hadley, Sherlock, Watkiss, Walker. Subs (not used): Helliwell, Wood.
BOOKED: Helliwell, Wood.
GOALS: Hadley (39), Harper (88).