A freak winner from Wayne Collins at Craven Cottage this afternoon left Bristol Rovers still searching for a first away league win of the campaign.
In-form Fulham dominated this contest and their tough task was made all the more difficult when they conceded a crazy opening goal eight minutes before half time. Dirk Lehmann drove into the box after working a clever one-two with Paul Bracewell but defender Mark Smith made a terrific saving tackle. Goalkeeper Lee Jones made a meal of gathering the loose ball and Wayne Collins stabbed an instinctive finish towards goal – with his scuffed shot only just going over the line before a phalanx of defenders could clear.
The home side deserved the lead after controlling the contest and forcing ten corners in the first 25 minutes. But the Whites failed to build on their scruffy goal and left themselves open to a sting in the tail. It was almost provided by Rovers’ top scorer Barry Hayles who burst into the penalty area only a minute after the home side had opened the scoring but Hayles was denied by a superb save from Fulham goalkeeper Maik Taylor.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Bracewell (N. Smith 73), Morgan, Hayward, W. Collins; Peschisolido (Salako 82), Lehmann (Beardsley 82).
GOAL: W. Collins (38).
BRISTOL ROVERS (4-3-3): Jones; M. Smith, Challis, Foster, Leoni; Penrice, Trees (Meaker 83), Holloway; Cureton, Hayles, Ipoua (Roberts 75). Subs (not used): Shore.
BOOKED: Challis, Penrice, Leoni.
REFEREE: David Pugh (Wirral).
Top-scorer Barry Hayles burst into the Fulham box but Maik Taylor made an excellent reflex save.