A penalty from centre back Mark Blake steered Fulham into the third round of the FA Cup but the big-spenders struggled to see off a spirited Southend side, who were reduced to nine men on a day of controversy at Craven Cottage.
Shrimpers boss Alvin Martin raged at referee Barry Knight who awarded the decisive spot-kick when Simon Royce upended Paul Peschisoldio and the visiting goalkeeper was shown a red card for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity. Blake kept his cool from the spot to score the only goal of the game in the 57th minute – and the dismissal of substitute Ben Lewis from a stamp nine minutes later looked like it would open the floodgates.
But Fulham failed to extend their advantage, with Blake seeing a last-minute penalty saved by substitute goalkeeper Tony Henriksen – and Southend could easily have forced a replay had Maik Taylor not made an excellent late save from Southend substitute Andy Rammell. The travelling fans throw beer cans at the referee and, whilst not condoning that behaviour, Martin made his feelings clear after the final whistle. The United boss said: “The game hinged on the referee’s decisions – and he was wrong about most of them. We fought hard here against a good side but going down to nine men killed us.”
FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; McAnespie (Moody 45), Herrera, Cullip, Blake; Bracewell, Neilson, Smith, Trollope; Peschisolido, Scott (Hayward 83). Subs (not used): Walton, Watson, Carpenter.
BOOKED: Smith, Bracewell, Cullip, Moody.
GOAL: Blake (pen 57).
SOUTHEND UNITED (4-3-3): Royce; Jones, Hails, Dublin, Harris; Gridelet, Coulbault, Clarke (Henriksen 56); Boere (Rammell 80), N’Diaye (Lewis 55), Thomson. Subs (not used): Perkins, Nielsen.
BOOKED: Dublin, Thomson, Henrikson.
REFEREE: Barry Knight (Kent).