A brace from in-form forward Paul Peschisolido ensured Second Division Fulham avoided another FA Cup banana skin as they eased past Leigh RMI in their first-round replay tonight.
Kevin Keegan’s big-spending side had been denied by the goalkeeping heroics of veteran David Felgate in an astonishing original day at Craven Cottage eleven days ago setting up a lucrative replay for the Unibond League outfit. The part-timers were outstanding again in front of the television cameras but had no answer to Canadian striker Peschisolido, who opened the scoring with a cool penalty, and then added a sensational second to put the visitors firmly in command.
Peschisolido, who has led Fulham’s line with aplomb this season, was causing Leigh RMI real problems with his movement from the outset. He drifted out to the left and made a powerful run before finding Rufus Brevett. The rampaging full back’s fine cross picked out Neil Smith perfectly but the midfielder headed wide when he should really have hit the target. Fulham survived strong penalty appeals when Chris Coleman seemed to have brought down Ian Monk in the box, but the referee Paul Rejer waved play on.
Felgate reprised some of Craven Cottage heroics when he thwarted Paul Bracewell twice in the minute but the former Football League veteran couldn’t stop Peschisolido’s penalty, despite getting a hand to the effort, after the former West Brom striker had been brought down by Simon Turpin. He grabbed a second when he seized possession from Tony Whealing, speeding into the penalty and firing an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net four minutes before the break.
The home side kept coming forward but their best opportunity saw Keith Evans head over a cross from Monk as Fulham comfortably secured a place in the second round.
LEIGH RMI (3-5-2): Felgate; Hill, Locke, Turpin; Prescott, Smyth, Ridings, Evans, Whealing; Monk, Matthews (Cryer 75). Subs (not used): Senior, Carr, James, Rostron.
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Coleman, Symons, Morgan; Bracewell (Hayward 79), Smith (Brazier 86), Trollope; Horsfield, Peschisolido. Subs (not used): Arendse, Lehmann.
GOALS: Peschisolido (pen 31, 41).
REFEREE: Paul Rejer (West Midlands)