A youthful Fulham side won their first pre-season friendly as Neeskens Kebano’s first-half penalty was enough to see off Piast Gliwice in Oplenica this afternoon.
Slavisa Jokanovic selected a number of the club’s rising stars for the first game of Fulham’s summer tour of Poland, handing the likes of Marek Rodak, Jerome Opoku, Matt Riley and Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson first senior starts against opposition who finished tenth in the Polish top flight last season. There was also a first appearance for Spanish centre back Marcelo Djalo after he finalised his move from Deportivo Lugo earlier this week. It was promising midfielder O’Riley who fashioned the first chance with a strong challenge followed by a pass that released Thorsteinsson only for the Icelandic winger to shoot straight at the goalkeeper.
The tall and imposing Opoku, more used to playing at centre back, was making good ground forward from left back and he found Kebano in space in the inside left channel but goalkeeper Dobrivoj Rustov turned the Congolese forward’s powerful effort aside. Kebano, full of his usual tricks, bamboozled the Piastunki defence and sent over a deep cross that both Thorsteinsson and Williams failed to convert at the far post.
The opening goal wasn’t long in coming though. Lasse Vigen Christensen, playing in a deeper midfield role, slide a sumptuous pass through for Williams to run onto and the Welsh winger was making good progress into the box when he was barged over by Sedlar. The referee pointed to the spot and Kebano appeared untroubled by Fulham’s litany of penalty failures last season, clinically sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Jokanovic shuffled his pack at half-time but the Championship side continued to control the contest. Substitutes Sone Aluko and Ryan Fredericks almost combined with a pair of outrageous flicks before Floyd Ayite surged into the box, tricking his way past three defenders, only for his dangerous cross to be intercepted. The Whites should have made the contest safe on the 70 minute mark when Williams’ drive was parried by Jakub Szmatula, who also foiled Ayite’s headed follow-up.
The lively Ayite got in behind the Piast defence again three minutes later – this time following a fine through ball from American youngster Luca de la Torre – but Szmatula smothered his shot. Piast pushed forward in the final ten minutes searching for an equaliser. David Button easily fielded a header from Zivec and an attempted curler from outside the box by substitute Stojan Vranjes before a couple of late corners came to nothing.
Jokanovic’s side – an interesting mix of academy graduates and experience – looked to tire in the final quarter but will have been glad to get through the first ninety minutes of pre-season unscathed. Fulham take on FC Zlin at Stadium Groklin in the second game of the tour on Saturday night.
PIAST GLIWICE SA (4-3-2-1): Rusov (Szmatula 45); Konczkowski (Mójta 85), Sedlar, Hebert (Papadopulos 71), Pietrowski; Bukata, Dziczek (Vranjes 78), Vassiljev (Korun 71); Badia (Gojko 68), Zivec; Jankowski (Angelski 62; Krakowczyk 83).
FULHAM (4-1-2-3): Rodák (Button 45); S.Sessegnon (Fredericks 45), Opoku (Odoi 45), Madl (Sigurdsson 45), Djaló; Christensen; de la Torre, O’Riley (McDonald 45); Thorsteinsson (Aluko 45), Kebano (Ayite 45), Williams (Thornsteinsson 84).