Fulham were beaten for the first time during their pre-season preparations as they went down to a narrow defeat at the hands of Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt this afternoon.
They were slightly unfortunate to lose a largely even contest, which was decided by a dubious refereeing decision when the official decided to penalise Andy Lonergan for handing what he deemed a backpass by Shan Hutchison after the centre back dived into to tackle Hans Seferovic close to the by-line. The Swiss nternational striker fired the free-kick into the net from just five yards out, beating Lonergan via a deflection off the Fulham wall.
The German side saw most of the possession and controlled the contest in the early stages against a Fulham side, which was almost wholly changed from the one that fought back from two goals down to draw with Hertha Berlin on Wednesday afternoon. The first chance fell the way of Eintracht, who finished ninth in the German league last year some three points off a European place, when midfielder Stefan Aigner’s hopeful shot was deflected wide. Jazz Richards then bravely threw himself at the feet of Stefan Reinartz to block his ambitious effort from twenty yards out.
Fulham gradually fashioned a couple of openings of their own. The lively Ben Pringle worked a bit of space down the left and his cross was just out of the reach of Matt Smith, whilst Jamie O’Hara – whose range of passing was once again impressive from a deep-lying position in midfield – almost drove in the opening goal from the edge of the box after some fine work from Lasse Vigen Christensen. The Danish under-21 international linked up again with O’Hara shortly afterwards but sent his own strike high over the crossbar before Seferovic drove a shot across the face of Fulham’s goal after good work from full-back Makoto Hasebe.
Fulham finished the half strongly despite going behind thanks to that indirect free-kick, with Pringle drilling a shot at goalkeeper Heinz Lindner after a burst of acceleration from Tom Cairney had created some space in the Eintracht box. Left-back Sean Kavanagh was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after a robust challenge on Hasebe right on the stroke of half-time.
Chances were few and far between at the start of the second period with the pace of proceedings affected by a number of substitutions. Czech striker Vaclav Kadlec sent a sharp shot on the turn over the angle of post and bar having cut inside dangerously, but Fulham’s own attackijng ambitions were released when Kit Symons decided to throw on Moussa Dembele for Smith. The French youth international did a better job of holding the ball up then the former Leeds United forward and his introduction had an immediate impact. He did well to link up with Alex Kacaniklic down the right and the overlapping Pringle almost stole in to pounce, but Eintracht scrambled the loose ball clear.
Fulham launched some concerted pressure for a late equaliser with Dan Burn failing to get a decisive connection on Kacaniklic’s deep corner and the Swedish international was almost able to latch onto a fine through ball from Pringle, but some desperate last ditch defending from the Germans preserved their slender advantage. The real drama came in the last two minutes of normal time. First, Dembele did brilliantly to drive into the Eintracht box with a surging run and his resultant cross trickled agonisingly out of reach of a lunging Cairney and, then, a thumping header from Shaun Hutchinson was cleared off the line at a corner.
Symons’ side will now finish their preparations for the start of their Championship season at Cardiff City on August 8th with a friendly against Premier League opposition in the shape of Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage next Saturday.
EINTRACHT FRANKFURT (4-4-2): Lindner; Hasebe (Medojevic 45), Russ, Reinartz (Ignjovski 45), Oczipka; Aigner (Gerezgiher 45), Flum, Abraham, Inui; Kadlec, Seferovic (Skendeia 45). Subs (not used): Becker, Djakpa, Waldschmidt, Kinsombi, Bunjaki.
GOAL: Seferovic (37).
FULHAM (4-4-1-1): Lonergan; Richards, Kavanagh (Voser 69), Hutchinson, Burn; O’Hara, Christensen, Cairney, Pringle; McCormack (Kacaniklic 45); Smith (Dembele 69). Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Bodurov, Tunnicliffe.