It wasn’t long ago that Aboubakar Kamara was held up as everything that was wrong with Fulham’s statistically orientated recruitment policy. But the French forward, gradually introduced into the Fulham first team following a £5m summer move from Amiens, silenced any doubters by inspiring a second half fightback at Hull with a brilliant brace after Slavisa Jokanovic’s side had handed their hosts a two-goal start.
Kamara won a penalty just three minutes into the second half, drawing a needless foul from Michael Hector after he had brought down a long pass from Tom Cairney and burst into the box. The striker took the spot kick himself, confidently blasting it beyond Allan McGregor, and, after spooning a late shot high over the bar, refused to be denied a decisive say in proceedings. He nonchalantly finished a fine passing move with a low finish from ten yards – an impact that owed much to hard work down at Motspur Park.
The Fulham head coach was so disgusted by his team’s listless display that he replaced the anonymous Floyd Ayite and ineffective Sheyi Ojo with Kamara and Neeskens Kebano after just forty minutes. The fluency that Fulham showed in outclassing Cardiff three days ago was nowhere to be seen – and Hull, without a goal in three games, grew in confidence as they began on the front foot.
Ola Aina and Jon Toral sprung the high Fulham line to release Fikayo Tomori, who didn’t realise he was offside before he clipped the bar after chipping Marcus Bettinelli. Hull built substantial pressure by winning several free-kick and Seb Larsson sent one straight at Bettinelli.
Hull got their reward for an adventurous start after half an hour when Denis Odoi refused to clear his lines and conceded a corner under pressure from Toral. Fulham failed to clear the set piece and the returning Jarrod Bowen – afforded the freedom of the six yard box – gleefully lashed home his eleventh of the season.
Four minutes later and Nigel Adkins’ side doubled their advantage. Toral tigerishly won possession in midfield and threaded a fine through ball between the Fulham centre halves for Nouha Sicko to run onto. The former Wolves forward raced into the box and lashed a rising finish past a helpless Bettinelli.
Jokanovic responded with a double change five minutes before the break – hauling off the anonymous Floyd Ayite and an ineffective Sheyi Ojo and introducing Kamara and Neeskens Kebano. The bold move almost had an immediate impact when Kebano soared majestically in the Tigers’ box but glanced his header fractionally wide.
You might have expected a ferocious start to the second period from the visitors, but Fulham were indebted to Bettinelli for keeping the deficit at two. The Fulham goalkeeper made a fine reaction stop at his near post to palm Dicko’s instinctive drive over the bar.
Fulham’s route back into the contest arrived moments later courtesy of a needless foul from Michael Hector. The centre half felled Kamara after the substitute brought down Tom Cairney’s lofted pass and the French forward picked himself up to blast the penalty beyond the previously underemployed Allan McGregor with real confidence.
The whole context of the contest changed in an instant. Fulham suddenly looked like scoring in every attack – with Kebano shooting over after a lovely link up with Ryan Sessegnon. Hector blocked Tim Ream’s drive at the far post and Kebano had a shot smothered by McGregor with two white shirts available in the six yard box.
Hull, now concentrating on defending their lead, threatened only sporadically but the dangerous Dicko had a shot blocked before Bettinelli superbly saved from Bowen by improvising with his feet. A third would have settled the contest – but it never arrived.
Fulham laid siege to the City goal in the last ten minutes. Substitute Lucas Piazon played in Sessegnon with a superb reverse pass but, after McGregor bravely threw himself at the teenager’s feet, Kamara blazed over from ten yards. The cult hero wasn’t to be denied, however.
A flowing move saw Ryan Fredericks, Cairney and Stefan Johansen find Piazon with one-touch passes before Kamara nonchalantly fired home the Brazilian’s lay-off brilliantly. Fulham might have pinched a winner in five minutes of added time but Kamara had certainly made his point.
HULL CITY (4-2-3-1): McGregor; Tomori, Aina, Dawson, Hector; Irvine, Toral; Stewart (Henriksen 68), Larsson (Campbell 71), Bowen; Dicko (Clarke 83). Subs (not used): Marshall, Clackstone, Evandro, Diomade.
GOALS: Bowen (32), Dicko (36).
FULHAM (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Odoi, Kalas, Ream; McDonald, Johansen, Cairney; Ojo (Kebano 40), R. Sessegnon, Ayite (Kamara 40). Subs (not used): Button, Djalo, Norwood, Fonte.
GOAL: Kamara (pen 48, 85).
REFEREE: David Webb (Lancashire).
ATTENDANCE: 15, 701.