A superb free-kick from debutant John Salako earned Fulham an opening day win at Macclesfield Town, who suffered their first home defeat for twenty months.

Kevin Keegan’s men showed their mettle by battling for a valuable away victory which was secured by a moment of magic from their ex-England international. Salako curled the only goal of the game into the net from fully thirty yards out after being teed up by Paul Bracewell from a free-kick that was taken short with nineteen minutes on the clock.

Macclesfield gave as good as they got but struggled to create opportunities in the final third. The hosts came closest to an equaliser when striker Richard Landon rattled the crossbar with a powerful header midway through the first half but the Whites were able to keep a clean sheet thanks to a diligent defensive display led by captain Chris Coleman and his Welsh international team-mate Kit Symons at the heart of the Fulham back four.

That resolution was only necessary as the Whites passed up several opportunities to extend their lead. Debutant Dirk Lehmann, who only arrived from Germany on Thursday, was twice denied by superb saves from Ryan Price before sending a venomous volley wide of goal from ten yards.

Keegan told the press afterwards:

“Macclesfield are good side and they’ve nothing to fear in this division. But we worked hard and got the reward.”

MACCLESFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Price; Payson, Tinson, Sodje (Howarth 86), Ingram; Whittaker, Wood, McDonald, Sedgemore; Askey, Landon (Barclay 65). Sub (not used): Sorvel.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Lawrence, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Bracewell, Morgan, Trollope, W. Collins; Salako, Lehmann. Subs (not used): Neilson, Hayward, Beardsley.

GOAL: Salako (19).

REFEREE: Kevin Lynch (Kirk Hammerton)