Goals from Adam Taggart and Cauley Woodrow helped Fulham come from two goals down to draw their latest pre-season friendly against Hertha Berlin in Schladming this evening.
Manager Kit Symons had spoken in the build up to this game about giving members of his first-team squad extended game time during this week-long tour of Austria and offered eight of his squad a full ninety minutes as preparations for Fulham’s Championship opener stepped up a gear against the Bundesliga side. Unfortunately, the frailties of Fulham’s fragile defence – so often exposed last season – didn’t take long to come to the fore as the German outfit raced into a two-goal lead inside the first fifteen minutes.
Hertha went in front after just five minutes thanks to a clinical piece of finishing from Vladimiri Darida, although Fulham’s defence was far too slow to close down the Czech midfielder following a threatening run from full-back Marvin Plattenhardt. A silly foul from Cameron Burgess – who was penalised for pushing at a corner – gave Hertha the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot and Jan Hegeler made no mistake from twelve yards. Moments later, a shambolic backpass from skipper Nikolay Bodurov underlined the shakiness of Fulham’s defence.
The Whites did pull a goal back just after the half hour mark. Woodrow saw his fine header superbly turned aside by goalkeeper Thomas Kraft but, from the resultant corner, Australian international Taggart nodded home his first goal for the club after Ryan Tunnicliffe and Burgess had won two clear headers inside the six-yard box. Hertha continued enjoy more of the possession, but aside from one Marcus Bettinelli block to deny Roy Beerens, they failed to fashion too many chances.
Symons made a triple substitution on 63 minutes introducing Moussa Dembele, Lasse Vigen Christensen and Ben Pringle for Taggart, Larnell Cole and Tunnicliffe. Dembele’s pace began to stretch the German defence, with Christensen’s composure and enlivening what had previously been a more workmanlike midfield. Woodrow, who had played much of the match in a deeper role behind Taggart, showed his predatory instincts when he latched onto a forward pass from Pringle 25 yards from goal and drove an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner. Fulham might have capped the comeback with a third but Dembele couldn’t get enough power on his header to divert a dangerous Pringle cross towards goal.
The nervy nature of Fulham’s defending will have been a real concern for Symons, who has yet to make any defensive additions to his squad over the course of the summer desperate Fulham’s failings in that area over the course of the past season. The spirit and character shown to come back from such a disastrous start, though, will have boosted confidence ahead of another stern test against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
FULHAM (4-4-1-1): Bettinelli; Grimer, Voser, Bodurov, Burgess; Tunnicliffe, Hyndman (Christensen 63), Cole (Pringle 63), Kacaniklic; Woodrow, Taggart (Dembele 63). Subs (not used): Rodak, Richards, Hutchinson, Cairney.
GOALS: Taggart (31), Woodrow (71).
HERTHA BERLIN (4-1-4-1): Kraft; Pekarik, Langkamp, Lustenberger, Plattenhardt; Skjelbred; Beerens (Mittelstädt 72), Hegeler (Kohls 45), Darida, Stocker; Haraguchi. Subs (not used): Gersbeck.
GOALS: Darida (4), Hegeler (pen 14).