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Millwall v Fulham: Memorable meetings

Ahead of our trip to south east London for a stern test of Fulham’s early season form, we’ve delved into archives to pick out three Fulham wins at the Den for your delectation. We start with a late show inspired by Kit Symons that helped the Whites record a vital early season success on the way to the Second Division title before recalling that brilliant Friday night when Slavisa Jokanovic’s side shrugged off a first half on the back foot to move into the automatic promotion places with some style. The following season’s League Cup success rounds off this feature – and we’d love to hear your memories in the comments.

Millwall 0-1 Fulham (17 October 1998)

Kit Symons ended Millwall’s four match unbeaten run with a last-gasp header that clinched Fulham’s first win at the Den for more than two decades. A fairly uneventful game was enlivened by some spicy challenges, including two from full back Jamie Stewart who was sent off by referee Eddie Wostenholme. Kevin Keegan’s side refused to settle for a point and Fulham sent bodies into the box for a last minute corner which was half cleared. Steve Hayward produced a peach of a cross from the left and Symons soared highest to direct a fine header past Tony Roberts in the Millwall goal. My own delirious celebrations were cut short when I realised I would have to make a lone walk to South Bermondsey station after Fulham’s late, late win.

Millwall 0-3 Fulham (20 April 2018)

This was one of the finest Fulham away displays of recent times. A trip to the New Den, with Millwall unbeaten in seventeen games and on the cusp of the play-off places, represented a serious test of Slavisa Jokanovic’s promotion ambitions. The Whites had to weather a serious spell of early home pressure but turned in a sublime showing after half time. Ryan Sessegnon slotted home the opener just after the interval and Kevin McDonald’s screamer of a second will live long in the memory. Aleksandar Mitrovic sealed a superb victory in stoppage time after an outstanding forward run from Tomas Kalas – firing home his thirteenth goal in as many games. The sing song at London Bridge remains one of my favourite memories of that magnificent season.

Millwall 1-3 Fulham (25 September 2018)

A low-key League Cup tie might seem a strange inclusion for this list but there was plenty to like about the way Jokanovic’s second string dealt with a potential banana skin in south east London. Joe Bryan offered an early glimpse of his finishing ability by with a lovely low finish for the opener and Luca de la Torre capped an excellent display with the second. Cyrus Christie crashed home a sensational third (from thirty yards out with his wrong foot) to snuff out a Millwall fightback following Tom Elliott’s header – and there was a debut from the bench for 15 year-old Harvey Elliott.

Coleman and Maja come back to haunt feeble Fulham

It just had to be, didn’t it? Sunderland secured their first win at the Stadium of Light in 364 days and it was masterminded by former Fulham favourite Chris Coleman and his bold second half substitutions that enlivened the Black Cats, who had previously displayed their newly acquired defensive resolve to keep Slavisa Jokanovic’s side at bay. One of the two young strikers to whom Coleman turned, teenager Josh Maja, got his start in the Fulham academy and, of course, it was he who provided the game’s decisive moment.

The Lewisham-born 18 year-old, cruelly denied the chance to build upon an encouraging pre-season by an untimely knee injury, punished Tim Ream’s uncharacteristically sloppy defensive distribution in the most ruthless fashion. Maja showed great poise in front of goal just five minutes after stepping off the bench to slip a splendid finish past the helpless Marcus Bettinelli and leave Sunderland twelve minutes to cling on for that elusive home win.

Coleman’s success with Wales was built on a well-drilled defence and both John O’Shea and Tyias Browning produced splendid tackles, but after absorbing wave after wave of Fulham possession, Robbin Ruiter was required to make just six saves. Three of them were routine and best stop of the match actually came at the other end, when Bettinelli reacted brilliantly to palm James Vaughan’s seemingly goalbound header onto the crossbar. Sunderland’s former Utrecht keeper was only really extended by a swerving shot from Rui Fonte when Sheyi Ojo should have done better than head straight at him and Tom Cairney, earlier denied by a goalsaving tackle from Browning, sent a late curling effort just over.

Such feebleness in the final third frustrated Jokanovic, whose side had started brightly but failed to make the breakthrough. Ryan Sessegnon looked dangerous all afternoon when pushing forward from full back and his fifth minute cross fizzed across the six-yard box, just out of reach of a sliding Johansen at the far post. Fonte fashioned Fulham’s clearest opening of the first half when his chipped cross left Ruiter in no-man’s land, but Ollie Norwood headed wide from almost underneath the bar.

Sunderland grew in confidence as the half went on with Bettinelli having to bat away a swerving shot from George Honeyman and, after a brief flurry before the break, they returned after Coleman’s team talk with more belief and attacking intent. Where Fulham had been assured with the ball at their feet in the first period, the extra endeavour of the hosts unsettled them and Sunderland no longer looked distinctly second best. Lewis Grabban suddenly received the ball in more dangerous areas and Bettinelli twice denied the Black Cats’ leading scorer.

Jokanovic declined to introduce Aboubakar Kamara as an outright striker until after Fulham had gone behind and, although the move that led to Sunderland’s winner was well put together by the home side, it had its genesis in Ream, usually so reliable in possession, lofting an aimless ball forward that none of his team-mates had a hope of winning. The hosts worked the ball to the left where Adam Matthews sauntered to the edge of the box unchecked and Maja, having timed his run perfectly, spun around Ream and produced a finish of the highest order. It was a hell of a way for Maja to mark his league debut. Coleman joyously dashed down the touchline and enveloped Kit Symons in a joyous bearhug – only this time their delight wasn’t shared by the Fulham faithful.

SUNDERLAND (5-3-2): Ruiter; Love, Matthews, Browning, O’Shea, Wilson; Gibson, Honeyman, Gooch (Ndong 67); Grabban (Asoro 73), Vaughan (Maja 72). Subs (not used): Steele, Galloway, McManaman, McGeady.

BOOKED: Gooch.

GOAL: Maja (78).

FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Fredericks, R. Sessegnon, Kalas (de la Torre 89), Ream; McDonald; Norwood (Graham 72), Cairney; Johansen; Ojo, Fonte (Kamara 78). Subs (not used): Button, Odoi, Djalo, Cisse.

BOOKED: Ojo, Fredericks.

REFEREE: Steve Martin (Staffordshire).


Symons set to rejoin Wales

Former Fulham manager Kit Symons could be in line for a return as Chris Coleman’s No2 with Wales.

Coleman’s current assistant boss Paul Trollope is poised to be named as the new manager of Championship side Cardiff this week.

Trollope is expected to move up from assistant manager at Cardiff to succeed Russell Slade, and Symons could step up into the role.

Symons quit as Wales No2 last summer to concentrate on managing Fulham, but after losing that job is acting as Coleman’s opposition scout for Euro 2016.

Wales will face England, Slovakia and Russia in their group in France this summer.

Symons keen on Charlton job

Kit Symons has registered an interest in the Charlton job – but it is not yet clear if the former Fulham boss is a serious contender for the vacancy.

The South London Press is reporting that the 45 year-old has been in touch with Charlton about the vacancy. The Welshman, who has been part of Chris Coleman’s coaching staff at international level, is keen to get back into club management having been out of a job since Fulham dismissed him in November 2015.

Symons steadied the ship at Craven Cottage after stepping up from the under-21 coaching role to succeed Felix Magath initially on a temporary basis. A fine run of results saw him given the managerial job on a permanent basis but he couldn’t lift the Whites into promotion contention and was sacked following a 5-2 home defeat by Birmingham. He left west London with a win percentage of 34.4%.

Symons in line for Leyton Orient hotseat

Former Fulham boss Kit Symons is a contender for the vacant managerial position at League Two Leyton Orient, according to reports this afternoon.

Orient have looking for a new boss after Ian Hendon was sacked following last weekend’s home defeat by Exeter City. The O’s won their first five league games of the season, but they have won just four times in 21 matches and are now in eleventh place, two points of the play-offs. The club’s board decided to act in order to preserve their promotion hopes.

Several names are under consideration at Brisbane Road but Symons is believed to be high on the shortlist Orient are compiling. The former Welsh assistant manager has been out of work since being sacked by Fulham in November, having repaired much of the damage done during Felix Magath’s disastrous reign at Craven Cottage. Symons ensured the Whites stayed in the Championship but the club have slumped since his departure – making another relegation battle a distinct possibility.