Two goals from Andy Johnson sent Fulham through to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday after an entertaining game at Hillsborough.
Johnson’s brace secured Fulham’s first away win in any competition since we won famously at Portsmouth on the final day of last season to preserve our Premiership status. Roy Hodgson selected a strong team with two changes from the side that drew with Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. Swedish right-back Fredrik Stoor replaced John Pantsil and on-loan Julian Gray got the nod ahead of the off-colour Simon Davies on the left with Dickson Etuhu keeping his place with Jimmy Bullard’s illness preventing him from taking part.
The Whites got off to a dream start on twelve minutes when Johnson tapped home from close range to give us the lead after being played in by a terrific pass from Danny Murphy. Remarkably, this was our first goal on the road since Clint Dempsey’s late equaliser grabbed a point at Portsmouth at the end of October. Fulham might have been behind inside the first minute when Mark Schwarzer produced a fine double save to deny Jermaine Johnson.
Any hope that we might ease to victory over our injury-hit Championship opponents – Wednesday could only name five substitutes instead of seven and had to hand one of their academy players a shirt number – disappeared in a flash with a stunning thunderbolt from left-back Tommy Spurr. Spurr hit what seemed to be a speculative shot from all of 25 yards but it was powerfully struck and swerved away from a beaten Mark Schwarzer into the net.
Fulham might have gone back in front almost immediately when Etuhu crashed a strike from distance against the crossbar and Clint Dempsey failed to convert the rebound. We continued to press towards the end of the first half with Bobby Zamora seeing a shot blocked and Gray shooting just over. That’s not to say that the home side didn’t pose a threat – Johnson headed tamely over the bar from close range after good work from Luke Boden down the left.
Johnson, who was particularly wasteful throughout the afternoon, somehow contrived to header over the bar after slack marking at a corner but as the game continued Fulham seemed to carry the greater threat. Dempsey’s stooping header was brilliant kept out by Lee Grant and Erik Nevland, introduced for the ineffective Zamora, swept over the crossbar from inside the box with ten minutes left.
It looked as though Fulham’s chance to avoid a replay had passed but that was to reckon without Johnson, who steered home the winner into the left hand corner close range, after a dangerous right-wing cross from Nevland. The game swung from end-to-end in added time as ex-Everton striker Francis Jeffers missed a good chance and Dempsey struck a post.
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-4-2): Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Small (Modest 77), McAllister, O’Connor, Boden, Jeffers, Johnson (Lekaj 89). Subs (not used): Jameson, Liversidge, Wragg.
GOAL: Spurr (21).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Stoor, Konchesky, Hangeland, Hughes; Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Gray (Davies 77); A. Johnson, Zamora (Nevland 69). Subs (not used): Zuberbuhler, Pantsil, Andreasen, Kallio, Baird.
GOALS: A. Johnson (12, 88)
REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire).