To whet your appetite for Sunday’s opening game of the season, we’ve picked out three memorable matches between Fulham and Middlesbrough from Craven Cottage’s past. You can peruse the highlights, read what we thought of it at the time via the links and reminiscence with fellow Fulham fans. We’ve got a masterclass from Ross McCormack, a reminder of Bobby Zamora’s importance even when he wasn’t scoring goals and the first glimpse of why Chris Coleman would prove everyone wrong as a Premier League manager. Enjoy!
Ross McCormack ruins Middlesbrough’s automatic promotion hopes
Fulham 4-3 Middlesbrough (25 April 2015)
A crazy game at Craven Cottage. Fulham, coming to an end of a season when Kit Symons steadied the ship after the ruinous reign of Felix Magath, looked in control against promotion-chasing Middlesbrough when McCormack converted a second half penalty to add to Michael Turner’s header on the stroke of half time. Adam Reach replied for Boro with a shot that Marcus Bettinelli might have saved, but when George Friend was red carded for bringing down Hugo Rodallega and McCormack scored his second hat-trick, you thought the Whites were home and hosed. Not so. Daniel Ayala and Kike brought Aitor Karanka’s side level before the Boro boss sent Dimi Konstantopoulous up for a stoppage-time curler only for McCormack to complete his hat-trick and seal all three points at the other end.
Zamora makes the difference
Fulham 3-0 Middlesbrough (20 December 2008)
In many ways, this match against Middlesbrough typified Bobby Zamora’s first season at Craven Cottage. Short on goals and confidence, he was left out of the starting line-up by Roy Hodgson despite having passed a fitness test. An early injury to Zoltan Gera forced a reshuffle and the striker showcased just why he was so important to this Fulham side with a supreme showing, full of selfless running and hold-up play. He was denied a deserved goal by a brilliant Ross Turnbull save, but Jimmy Bullard tapped home his final Fulham goal to open the scoring. Danny Murphy made it two from the spot after Tony McMahon was harshly penalised for handball and Clint Dempsey put the gloss on the win firing home from a tight angle after a flowing passing move.
Coleman’s boys spring a surprise
Fulham 3-2 Middlesbrough (16 August 2003)
Fulham had been tipped to finish bottom of the pile by almost every pundit after appointing former captain Chris Coleman on a permanent basis after he had steered them to safety having stepped into the breach when the Whites called time on Jean Tigana’s tenure. The league’s youngest manager was out of his depth, the team’s French stars would leave and Fulham couldn’t possibly survive. Not for the first time that season, Fulham proved them all wrong with a spirited opening day display. They shrugged off the setback of going behind to Carlos Marinelli’s early opener, as Steve Marlet’s equaliser was followed by strikes from Junichi Inamoto and Louis Saha. Szilard Nemeth did ensure a nervy finale when he punished a mistake from Edwin van der Sar to make it 3-2 but Fulham held on and flourished under Coleman, finishing ninth in the table. Worth taking a look at the highlights.
Do you have any memories of these matches? Feel free to share them below.