Fulham had to wait almost an hour to break down bottom club Huddersfield Town at Craven Cottage this afternoon but they eventually got both the win and the goals they were searching for as they ended a worrying mini-slump to return to winning ways.

It wasn’t a vintage performance by Jean Tigana’s side but the Frenchman will be satisfied enough with banking the three points after the Whites dropped points at Wolves and Sheffield Wednesday either side of a first defeat of the season at home to Preston North End. It looked like they could be in for another frustrating afternoon as a defensively-minded Huddersfield outfit successfully blunted their cutting edge in a dour first half.

Fulham’s football was ponderous for the first 55 minutes in truth with visiting defenders getting back in numbers to thwart even their most enterprising attacks. Top scorer Louis Saha seemed the likeliest to break the deadlock but the French forward was frustrated in the first half. Saha’s speed of thought saw him surge clear of his many markers and three Town players were cautioned for fouls on him, including Scott Sellars, who eventually undermined his side’s attempts to get back in the game when he was sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second period.

By then, the Whites had hit the front. It was Saha who provided the breakthrough – guiding a great header past the previously unbeatable Nico Vaesan from a pinpoint free-kick by Fabrice Fernandes. New Huddersfield manager Lou Macari saw his side cut open regularly after they went behind and admitted he will need to work on the Terriers’ discipline after being asked about Sellers’ sending off. Fulham were far from blameless in this respect – both Saha and Fernandes picked up yellow cards for petulant fouls of their own – as the game finished with a series of scuffles.

The hosts eventually made the most of their numerical advantage in the closing stages. Bjarne Goldbaek put the game beyond the visitors when his powerful drive took a deflection that wrongfooted Vaesen with three minutes remaining and full back Steve Finnan lashed in his first goal of the season from the right side of the penalty area in the last minute of normal time.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Davis (Fernandes 45), J. Collins, Goldbaek, Clark; Saha (Willock 90), Hayles. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Melville, W. Collins.

BOOKED: Fernandes, Saha.

GOALS: Saha (58), Goldbaek (87), Finnan (89).

HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (4-4-2): Vaesen, Jenkins, Gray (Heary 45), Lucketti, Kozluk; Thornley, Gorre (Schofield 66), Armstrong, Sellars; Baldry, Smith. Subs (not used): Margetson, Hay, Senior.

BOOKED: Sellars, Jenkins, Lucketti, Kozluk.

SENT OFF: Sellars.

REFEREE: Steve Bennett (Orpington).