Ryan Fredericks starred as Fulham drew their penultimate pre-season friendly with SV Darmstadt in Germany this afternoon.
The Fulham full-back scored a terrific goal, but Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were pegged back for the second time in the contest as the Whites had to settle for an entertaining draw. The Serbian head coach opted for a largely experienced side but handed Marcus Bettinelli, reportedly poised to sign a new contract with the Cottagers, his first start of the summer in goal. The Fulham academy graduate didn’t have to wait long for his first taste of the action – palming aside a powerful cross-cum-shot from Fabian Holland and then gathered a Kevin Grosskreutz strike from the ensuing corner.
The visitors took the lead in farcical fashion having hardly threatened the Darmstadt goal when the home side managed to score a comical long-range own goal. Centre back Aytac Sulu beat his own goalkeeper from fully 35 yards when he drove a back pass towards his own goal completing wrongfooting a stranded Daniel Fernandes Heuer in the process. Darmstadt responded in spirited fashion with Bettinelli pushing over a floated strike from American Terrence Boyd before Peter Niemeyer somehow contrived to send a free header at a corner over at close range.
Fulham threatened fleetingly with Tom Cairney, back in action after being rested for Thursday’s defeat at the hands of West Ham as a precaution after a knee injury, at the heart of their best moves. The returning Fulham captain played in Sone Aluko to conclude a fluent break, but the Nigerian forward failed to squeeze his shot beyond Fernandes from an acute angle after twisting past a defender.
Jokanovic’s charges looked well set to take a lead into the half-time break before their old frailties at set plays resurfaced three minutes before the interval. Captain Sulu punished some sloppy marking to convert a fantastic diving header after the Fulham defence were fooled by a near post feint by Boyd to level matters.
Darmstadt began the second half with real purpose and Bettinelli produced a brilliant save just after the resumption when he clawed away a goalbound glancing header from substitute Artur Sobiech. Fulham’s best opportunity arrived at other end when Floyd Ayite latched onto an excellent cross from Ibrahima Cisse but was repelled by a smart save from Joel Mall. The Whites somehow clung onto parity when Sobiech shockingly skied over the bar from barely a yard out – and the game swung from end-to-end afterwards.
The visitors went ahead again through a brilliant solo strike from the marauding Fredericks. The full-back burst down the right and, having been found by a fine pass from promising young midfielder Matt O’Riley, he cut inside and stroked home impressively with his left foot. Fulham’s lead lasted all of five minutes before Marvin Mehlem profiting from some more slack defending by pouncing from close range. Both sides had opportunities to snatch a winner, but Holland squandered the best opportunity when he fired wastefully over from a promising position.
Jokanovic will be hoping that Fulham can add some further signings ahead of their final warm-up before the start of the Championship season against Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
SV DARMSTADT (4-2-3-1): Heuer Fernandes (Mall 45); Grosskreutz (Maclaren 77), Sulu (Hu 77), Kamavuaka (Altintop 45), Steinhofer (Sirigu 45); Stark (Lacazette 45), Niemeyer (Gaines 77); Kempe (Hohn 77), Von Haacke (Mehlem 46), Holland; Boyd (Sobiech 46, Bezjak 77).
GOALS: Sulu (42), Mehlem (69).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Djalo, Ream, R. Sessegnon; McDonald Cairney (Cissé 37), Johansen (O’Riley 63); Lucas Piazon, Aluko (Woodrow 73), Ayité (Opoku 84). Subs (not used): Rodak, Button.
GOALS: Sulu (o.g. 17, Fredericks 64).