If you weren’t aware that Mohamed Al-Fayed’s millions were bankrolling Fulham this season, then many things still looked the same at Craven Cottage. Micky Adams was still in the dugout, the summer spending was modest and Fulham still fielded three centre halves. Last season’s top scorer, Mike Conroy, even scored the winning goal in a game that the Whites dominated but failed to kill off. Plus ca change.
Of course, that would be to ignore what Adams called the ‘hype’. Al-Fayed was given a rapturous reception upon arrival but stayed out of the limelight, watching studiously from the directors box, alongside Michael Cole and Max Clifford. Adams, an old-fashioned but ambitious manager, told the press after this scrappy victory:
“I was worried before the game. There was a carnival atmosphere. I will be glad when it settles down. This time last year I was talking to one man and a dog, but if we are going to be a high-profile club, we are going to have to get used to it.”
Fulham fashioned plenty of chances prior to taking the lead six minutes before half time. New arrival Aiden Newhouse missed two of the most clear-cut and it was left to Conroy, who plundered 23 goals as the Whites won promotion from the Third Division, last season to secure the win by deftly lifting a smart finish after the grounded Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Marriott, who had twice saved efforts from Steve Hayward. “Jimmy Greaves used to say you could score more goals by passing it into the net, than blasting them,” said Conroy after the final whistle.
Wrexham were spirted but struggled to test a miserly Fulham defence and substitute Steve Watkin’s frustrated told four minutes from time when he was sent off for a late challenge.
FULHAM (5-3-2): Walton; Watson, Blake, Morgan, Cullip, Herrera; Hayward, Smith, Carpenter (Cockerill 79); Newhouse (Scott 76), Conroy (Moody 83).
GOAL: Conroy (39).
WREXHAM (4-4-2): Marriott; McGregor, Jones, Carey, Brace; Chalk, (Watkin, 85), Phillips, Ward (Brammer, 73), Russell; Connolly, Skinner. Subs (not used): Ridler.
BOOKED: Connolly, Jones.
SENT OFF: Watkin.
REFEREE: Andy D’Urso (Billericay).