Goals from Erik Nevland and Danny Murphy in the space of three second half minutes secured a comfortable victory at Southend in Fulham’s first pre-season friendly tonight.
The hosts got off to the stronger start but debutant David Stockdale was largely untroubled on his first appearance in the Fulham goal. Jimmy Bullard whistled a trademark free-kick just over the bar from 25 yards and a long-range strike from Damien Scannell ended up comfortably clearing Stockdale’s crossbar at the other end. Steve Mildenhall parried away a venomous volley from Leon Andreasen, before Stockdale did brilliantly to deny Lee Barnard from close range after a gorgeous pass from Nicky Bailey had unlocked the Fulham defence.
Bailey, a boyhood Fulham fan, went close himself moments later when he drew an excellent reaction save from Stockdale from the left edge of the penalty area. Both sides were fully up for an open contest and David Healy required lengthy treatment after a ferocious 50/50 with Adam Barrett. Bullard looked lively in central midfield and optimistic effort from fully 30 yards almost broke the deadlock.
The visitors survived a couple of scares before the break. James Walker robbed Moritz Volz in a dangerous area and his purposeful run down the left briefly threatened before Fulham defenders flooded back and crowded out Barnard. Bailey almost opened the scoring right above the individual with a wonderful mazy dribble that took him away from two tacklers and in the box but Stockdale superbly saved his low shot.
Roy Hodgson introduced Danny Murphy, Andranik Teymourian, Aaron Hughes and Tony Kallio at the interval and Fulham’s play carried greater intensity after the break. Nevland nearly made an immediate impact – rattling the crossbar with a rasping drive from the edge of the box – and Mildenhall did produced a brilliantly diving save to claw away a Murphy free-kick.
The Premier League side were dominant now and they opened the scoring on the hour mark. Mildenhall spilled a teasing cross from Steven Davis to allow Nevland the simplest of headed finishes into an empty net. Fulham’s new skipper Murphy doubled the lead two minutes later with an assured finish from the edge of the area after patient probing passing had worn down the Southend defence. Lee Cook made an impression after coming off the bench, but Southend refused to die wondering and Stockdale claimed two headers in quick succession from Paul Furlong and Alan McCormack.
Barnard was a willing worker all evening and almost scored a superb consolation goal when he spun away from Kallio and curled a fabulous effort fractionally wide of Stockdale’s far post from 25 yards. Hodgson will have been happy with the workout and a composed display from his Fulham side, who face Celtic in their second warm-up for the new season at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
SOUTHEND UNITED (4-4-2): Mildenhall (Joyce 74); Francis, Clarke, Barrett, Sankofa (Herd 45); Moussa, McCormack, Bailey, Scannell (Furlong 46); Walker, Barnard. Subs (not used): O’Keefe, Jones, Lokando, Ademeno.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Stockdale; Volz, Konchesky (Kallio 45), Hangeland (Hughes 45), Baird; Davis (Cook 65), Bullard (Murphy 45), Davies (Gera 45), Andreasen (Andranik 45); Nevland, Healy. Sub (not used): Etheridge.
GOALS: Nevland (59), Murphy (61).
REFEREE: M. Hegley.