Tony Thorpe scored the winner on his home debut as Fulham’s new centre forward proved his worth in a tense victory over Bristol Rovers at Craven Cottage this evening.
Thorpe, who made his debut in the defeat at Blackpool on Saturday after signing from Luton for £800,000 last week, kept his cool after latching onto a header from substitute Darren Freeman and racing clear of the Rovers defence before slipping an assured finish beyond the stranded Shane Higgs in the visiting goal.
Fulham had dominated for large periods of this contest but looked likely to be frustrated again on a cold night by the banks of the Thames. Higgs had made excellent saves to keep out efforts from Paul Peschisolido, Thorpe and Freeman before the striker tucked away the decisive goal.
Player-manager Ian Holloway’s side created chances of their own having boldly fielded a three-pronged attack featuring Barry Hayles, Peter Beadle and Jamie Cureton but Andre Arendse thwarted all three strikers as Fulham held on to claim a precious three points.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Arendse; Lawrence, Brevett, Blake, Coleman; Bracewell, Smith, W. Collins (Freeman 64), Trollope; Peschisolido, Thorpe (Hayward 81). Subs (not used): Morgan.
BOOKED: Brevett, Peschisolido, Coleman.
GOAL: Thorpe (75).
BRISTOL ROVERS (4-3-3): Higgs; Pritchard, White (Low 85), Foster, Power; Ramasut (White 74), Skinner, Holloway; Beadle, Cureton, Hayles. Subs (not used): Hayfield.
REFEREE: Rob Harris (Oxford).