A second-string Fulham side suffered a first-leg setback at Division Three pacesetters Chesterfield Town in the second round of the League Cup this evening.

Sean Parrish’s late winner – his third of the season – gave the hosts a slender advantage heading into the second leg at Craven Cottage where Jean Tigana, who has selected understrength teams in this competition with promotion to the Premier League being his stated priority, could turn to the likes of Louis Saha to turn this tie around.

Fulham, who had already suffered a first round first leg defeat to Second Division Northampton in the first round, could still call on experienced heads even despite Tigana ringing the changes. Maik Taylor kept his place in goal and Welsh international Kit Symons started in central defence with Luis Boa Morte and Paul Peschisolido featuring further forward The Canadian international went close as early as the second minute for the visitors but fired an early sighter wide of goal.

Fulham’s goal led a charmed life in the first half with Jon Howard going close on three separate occasions. The forward only had himself to blame as he somehow stabbed wide from close range as the hosts dominated the first half at a cold and wet Saltegate. Luke Beckett, who has scored four goals already since signing from Chester in the summer, spurned a couple of good chances inside the first half hour as well.

Fulham’s defence, featuring debutants Kieran McAnespie and academy graduate Mark Hudson, looked decidedly shaky but they struggled to create serious openings even after Tigana handed young striker Elvis Hammond a first senior appearance in the second half. Peschisolido squandered the visitors’ clearest opening with twenty minutes to go when he poked an effort wide of an open goal from Boa Morte’s left-wing cross.

Chesterfield could easily have had a penalty when McAnespie appeared to trip Beckett in the box but referee Scott Mathieson ignored loud home appeals for a spot-kick. The Spirites did score a deserved winner in the last minute of normal time when Roger Willis played Parrish into behind the retreating Fulham rearguard and the midfielder tucked an assured finish past Taylor.

CHESTERFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Pollitt; Payne, Edwards, Breckin, Blatherwick; Edbon, Parrish, Galloway (Ingledow 82), Willis; Beckett, Howard. Subs (not used): Armstrong, Tutill, Beaumont, Perkins.

BOOKED: Breckin.

GOAL: Parrish (90).

FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Neilson, McAnespie, Knight, Symons, Hudson; Hayward, Lewis, Boa Morte; Peschisolido, Cornwall (Hammond 45). Subs (not used): Thompson, McCracken, Keevill, Willock.

BOOKED: Knight, McAnespie.

REFEREE: Scott Mathieson (Stockport).