Fulham were beaten in the last match of their summer tour of Austria – but they almost produced an epic fightback against Schalke in Kapfenberg this afternoon.
Chris Coleman selected a young starting line-up for the tough test against Bundesliga opposition and the Fulham side were immediately on the back foot. Schalke, who are a week ahead of the Whites in their pre-season preparations, were denied by a brilliant save from new signing Jaroslav Drobny as he tipped over a powerful effort from Ebbe Sand.
The Germans did take the land after ten minutes. Sand flicked on a right-wing cross from Hamit Altintop and Levan Kobiashvili buried a header at the back post. Schalke doubled their lead with a superb second shortly afterwards. Lincoln’s floated free kick found Mladen Kristajic who brought the ball down effortlessly on his chest and drove a majestic volley in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was one way traffic at this point as Drobny denied Zlatan Bajramovic from close range and Adam Green, operating in the unfamiliar role of centre half, did brilliantly to deny Christian Poulsen a third. But Schalke did extend their lead when Lincoln punished a Sylvain Legwinski handball by swerving home a fantastic free-kick from just outside the box. Legwinski did drove over the bar before half-time, but the first 45 minutes were a real disappointment for Coleman.
The Fulham boss turned to some of his more experienced players after the interval and the Cottagers began to gain a foothold in the contest. New Zealand midfielder Chris James sent a free-kick just over before the visitors grabbed a goal back just after the hour. Dean Leacock drove a ball over the retreating Schalke defence and Michael Timlin finished calmly – shooting into the far corner – to give Fulham some hope.
Their chances of an unlikely comeback soared when new arrival Ahmed Elrich fashioned a second. The Australian midfielder’s cross found Steed Malbranque and, after Adam Green’s ball back in was only half cleared, Claus Jensen fired clinically past Frank Rost. The Schalke goalkeeper produced an excellent save to deny Andy Cole an equaliser in the last minute, turning his instinctive volley over the crossbar.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Drobny; Volz, N. Jensen (Fontaine 45; Rehman 80), Leacock, Green (Milsom 80); Legwinski (Pembridge 70), McDermott (Malbranque 56), Pratley (Elrich 56), James (C. Jensen 58); Ehui (Cole 62), Timlin (Radzinski 62).