Fulham finished their pre-season tour of Poland on a disappointing note after letting a two-goal slip against FC Zlin in Poznan this afternoon.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s side looked to be coasting to a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Sone Aluko and Luca de la Torre but folded under late pressure from their Polish opponents as strikes by Robert Bartolomeu and Dame Diop ensured Zlin secured a share of the spoils.
The Whites looked much stronger than for Wednesday’s first friendly of the summer against Piast Gliwice, with eight changes seeing Tom Cairney return to the starting line-up. A torrential downpour made Fulham’s pretty passing almost obsolete for much of the match, but the Cottagers still made the more assured start. A flowing move along the right flank saw Cairney play in Ryan Fredericks behind the Zlin defence but a covering defender desperately cleared the right back’s cross ahead of Sone Aluko.
Captain Cairney, pivotal to Fulham’s positive start, fired a drive wide from the edge of the area and it was no surprise when the playmaker unlocked the home defence to give the tourists a deserved lead. The Scottish midfielder slipped a lovely ball between the centre backs allowing Aluko to race away, round goalkeeper Stanislav Dostál and role the opening goal into an unguarded net.
Jokanovic made four changes at half-time, introducing Ragnar Sigurdsson alongside youngsters Marek Rodak, Marcelo Djalo and Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson. Rodak, who had replaced David Button, was immediately into the action – repelling a shot from just outside the box. Luca de la Torre had a smart shot saved at the other end before the Whites had a serious let off when Michael Madl cleared an Ubong Ekpai effort off the line from Bartolomeu’s cross.
The Whites made the most of that slice of fortune as de la Torre doubled their lead with a delicious chip over a stranded Dostál with eighteen minutes remaining. But the American soon limped off injured, leaving Jokanovic’s side to finish proceedings with ten men. Zlin quickly made the most of their numerical advantage as Bartolomeu beat Rodak with a low drive from just inside the area – and the plucky Poles levelled matters with eight minutes to go when Senegalese striker Diop danced away from two defenders and capped a fine run with a calm finish. It might have just been even worse for Fulham but Bartolomeu nodded wide of goal when he looked certain to score the winner with five minutes remaining.
FC FASTAV ZLIN (4-4-2): Dostál; Pazdera, Bartošák (Matejov 45), Janí?ek, Gaji?; Jirá?ek (Bartolomeu 45), Podio (Diop 45), Džafi? (I. Traoré 45), Štípek (Ekpai 45); Fantiš (Nzembi 45), Beauguel.
GOALS: Bartolomeu (80), Diop (82).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Button (Rodak 45); Fredericks (S. Sessegnon 68), Odoi (Opoku 68), Ream (Sigurdsson 45), Madl (Djalo 45); McDonald (Christensen 58), Johansen (O’Riley 58); Kebano (Thorsteinsson 45), de la Torre, Cairney; Aluko (Williams 68). Subs (not used): Norman.
GOALS: Aluko (29), de la Torre (72).