Two goals from Henri Lansbury and one from Robert Tesche earned Nottingham Forest an easy win over Fulham at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
The Championship strugglers started this fixture level points but Fulham were the authors of their own downfall with a series of first half errors giving Slavisa Jokanovic’s side a mountain to climb. Forest went ahead midway through the first half having kept the ball impressively throughout the early exchanges. Lansbury won a free-kick down by the corner flag and took it quickly, finding German midfielder Tesche unmarked outside the area. He fired a fabulous first-time finish past Marcus Bettinelli to quieten the home crowd.
Fulham were fitful in attack during the first half with Moussa Dembele barely having a kick in the Forest penalty area. When the in-form French striker did get an effort away he was crowded out by red shirts. The hosts couldn’t even get to half time a single down adrift. A clumsy tackle on Tesche by Emerson Hyndman led to a penalty that was clinically converted by captain Lansbury.
The Whites did come close to halving their arrears just before the half-time interval. Loud appeals for a penalty for a foul on Ross McCormack were waved away by referee Robert Lewis, who was instructed by his assistant to award a free-kick. Fulham’s regular penalty taker McCormack had a go from just outside the area and saw his superb strike rattle the crossbar.
An unhappy Jokanovic made a double switch during the interval sending on Matt Smith and Lasse Vigen Christensen for Hyndman and the ineffectual Tom Cairney. That injected some life into what had been a flat Fulham performance and Dembele brought the very best of Dorus de Vries, who had been Fulham’s scourge at the City Ground in the reverse fixture. From the ensuing corner, Smith headed in McCormack’s cross to give his side a real lifeline.
With the Whites pushing forward in search of an equaliser, they were caught by the ultimate sucker punch at the other end. Lansbury gloriously guided home a great cross from Eric Lichaj with twenty minutes remaining to ensure all three points were heading back to Nottingham. The febrile atmosphere inside the Cottage wasn’t helped when referee Lewis emphatically waved away penalty appeals for a foul on Smith.
FULHAM (4-1-3-2): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Ream, Madl, Amorebieta; Parker (Tunnicliffe 80); Ince, Hyndman (Christensen 45), Cairney (Smith 45); McCormack, Dembele. Subs (not used): Lonergan, Stearman, Baird, Woodrow.
BOOKED: Fredericks, Smith.
GOAL: Smith (62).
NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-4-1-1): de Vries; Lichaj, Jokic, Mills, Fox; Tesche, Gardner, Cohen, Osborne, Lansbury; Blackstock (Assombalonga 90+3). Subs (not used): Evitimov, Worrall, Mendes, Burke, O’Grady, Macheda.
GOAL: Tesche (23), Lansbury (pen 43, 70).
REFEREE: Robert Lewis (Shrewsbury).