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Woodrow wounds Fulham’s promotion push

It had to happen, didn’t it? The returning Cauley Woodrow wrecked Fulham’s ambition of overhauling Leeds with a double as bottom of the league Barnsley produced a shock to rival their opening day win over the Whites on a wet and windy afternoon at Craven Cottage.

Woodrow, who burst onto the scene as a teenage goalscorer when Fulham were battling against relegation from the top flight, never really got a fair crack of the whip after scoring a hat-trick in front of new boss Slavisa Jokanovic when the Serbian took over from Kit Symons. He has hardly stopped scoring since moving to Oakwell last year and his brace helped the Tykes to their first win at Craven Cottage in more than two decades.

Marek Rodak, who has been outstanding in the Fulham goal since replacing Marcus Bettinelli earlier this season, had a wretched afternoon. He gave away an early penalty after hauling down Jacob Brown having spilled a loose ball as he was challenged him in the box and then dashed disastrously from his line in pursuit of Woodrow’s through ball, miss it and allow Brown to loft home a critical second. Maybe the Slovakian’s brain was scrambling by the concession of such a needless penalty – but it was a real rush of blood.

Woodrow wrapped a convincing win for Gerhard Struber’s side with just over ten minutes to play. The former England under 21 international breezed past Michael Hector and snuck a low shot into the far corner from an exceptionally tight angle – sparking delirium amongst the travelling fans. It was impossible to argue that Barnsley didn’t deserve it. This was a fluke – they outfought, outpassed and outplayed a fragile Fulham side from the outset.

Parker made four changes from the midweek draw at Millwall, but his team never got going. They were lethargic in comparison to their visitors, who tore into every challenge and, unlike many visitors to the Cottage this season, showed ambition and adventure in possession. Both Woodrow and Conor Chaplin, whose goalscoring exploits have been a rare bright in Barnsley’s season, spurned decent opportunities in the early exchanges before Rodak fielded a rather weak effort from Chaplin after Luke Thomas had opened up the Fulham defence.

The penalty, which Rodak fiercely disputed, set Fulham back but it shouldn’t have been such a bodyblow against a side low on confidence. The hosts’ first half was hopelessly error-strewn and, even though they saw more of the ball, there was little that hurt Barnsley. Josh Onomah and Ivan Caveleiro had wild shots from distance and replacement goalkeeper Brad Collins was only seriously tested in stoppage time by a Tom Cairney daisycutter that was drilled straight at him.

Fulham’s only real period of any pressure came immediately after the interval. Collins made a smart stop as Aleksandar Mitrovic, horribly isolated for much of the afternoon swivelled into space inside the box before a goalmouth scramble presented openings to Kevin McDonald and Onomah in quick succession. But the barrage of home attacks never really materialised – and Fulham failed to heed a warning when Mike Bahre’s through ball almost reached Chaplin, only for Rodak to smother it.

Perhaps that was why the Slovian goalkeeper inexplicably charged off his line leaving himself so stranded by Brown’s lofted finish. That goal sparked Parker into life on the touchline – though the Fulham manager’s decision to withdraw Cairney, the likeliest source of a killer pass, in favour of Harry Arter was baffling with Fulham needing to make more of the running. Dropping Bobby Decordova-Reid robbed the Whites of real dynamism – and it was asking too much for him to turn the tide as a substitute.

Fulham switched to a back three but that only served to unbalance them further as Barnsley threatened to run riot. Woodrow lashed a low drive inches wide of the far post and then a long kick from Collins ran all the way through to Chaplin, but the former Portsmouth striker failed to hit the target. Belatedly, the hosts rallied as Cavaleiro flashed a volley fractionally wide before Collins made excellent stops to thwart Decordova-Reid and Kamara, before Woodrow grabbed his second to put the contest to bed.

A miserable day for the home fans was summed up in the final ten minutes. Mitrovic connected with a brilliant run and cross down the left from Kamara but could only head straight at Collins from six yards out. Onomah was twice denied a consolation by two superb saves from the Barnsley goalkeeper in the space of a stoppage time minute. He turned aside a curler that was heading for the far corner before producing an even finer save to tip a venomous strike onto the crossbar – underlining that it wouldn’t be Fulham’s day.

Parker now has a serious job to do in making sure that this was an aberration rather than the beginning of the end of Fulham’s push for an automatic promotion place. Two testing trips to Derby and Bristol City will tell us whether the Whites still have the stomach for the fight. On this evidence, that has to be called into question.

FULHAM (4-3-3): Rodak; S. Sessegnon (Kamara 65), Bryan, Hector, Ream; McDonald (Decordova-Reid 53), Onomah, Cairney (Arter 54); Knockaert, Cavaleiro, Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Odoi, Christie, Johansen.

BOOKED: Bryan.

BARNSLEY (4-1-2-1-2): Collins; Ludewig, Solbaeur, Halmo, J. Williams; Mowatt; Thomas (Dougall 81), Baehre; Woodrow (Marsh 90); Chaplin (Schmidt 86), Brown. Subs (not used): B. Williams, Walton, Oduor, Simoes.

BOOKED: Halmo.

GOALS: Woodrow (pen 24, 79), Brown (51).

REFEREE: James Linington (Newport).

ATTENDANCE: 18,516.

Woodrow heads to Bristol City on loan

Fulham striker Cauley Woodrow has joined Bristol City on loan for the remainder of the season this afternoon.

The former England under-21 international, who was part of Aidy Boothroyd’s squad that reached the semi-finals of this year’s European Championships, was unlikely to feature for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side after a poor start to the season and had been tipped for a repeat of last term’s successful loan spell with Burton Albion. Brewers boss Nigel Clough was keen to take Woodrow to the Pirelli Stadium once more but could not agree terms on a deal with Fulham. Clough claimed that Albion had been ‘outbid by a Championship rival’.

Instead, the 22 year-old has moved to Ashton Gate and Bristol City manager Lee Johnson was delighted to get his man, especially with Bosnia-Herzegovina international Milan Djuric likely to be sidelined for at least two months following groin surgery:

He’s been on our list for a long time. I think he’s found opportunities limited at Fulham, probably because of their playing style and them playing with one up front, but certainly in a two he gives us everything we want.

Woodrow’s Fulham career has stalled since a promising beginning that saw him handed a senior debut by Felix Magath after he and Moussa Dembele formed a formidable partnership in the club’s youth sides. He scored his first goal for the club in their final game in the Premier League – a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage in May 2014 – but struggled to hold down a first team place after Fulham signed Ross McCormack later that summer.

He made just one league start under Jokanovic last term, scoring twice in the EFL Cup but having a penalty saved by Ivan Lucic as City knocked the Whites out in the third round. Woodrow could make his Robins’ debut against Millwall on Saturday.

Burton ready to reprise Woodrow loan

Burton Albion are in negotiations with Fulham over the possibility of taking Cauley Woodrow back to the Pirelli Stadium on loan.

The former England under-21 international scored five times in fourteen appearances in a successful loan spell last season that helped keep the Brewers in the Championship. Nigel Clough was keen to try and sign Woodrow during the summer but Albion did not have the finances to secure a permanent move and the former Luton Town teenage starlet signed an extension to his existing deal at Craven Cottage.

With Woodrow no closer to breaking through into Slavisa Jokanovic’s first team, Sky Sports are reporting that Burton have began talks with Fulham about a second loan spell for the 22 year-old striker. Woodrow’s only appearance for the Fulham first team came in the EFL Cup at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made the opening goal for Lucas Piazon, and he was taken off at half-time by under-23 manager Peter Grant during Friday’s 2-1 defeat by Middlesbrough in the opening Premier League 2 fixture of the new campaign.

Woodrow, who has scored 15 goals in 66 appearances for Fulham since being handed his debut by Felix Magath in March 2014, is eager for first-team football and would bolster Clough’s striking resources.

Woodrow extends Fulham deal

Fulham have extended striker Cauley Woodrow’s contract by another year.

The England under-21 international striker, who caught the eye on loan with Burton Albion last season, is now contracted to the Whites until the summer of 2019.

Woodrow said: “I only had a year left on my current contract when I went on loan, so it was obviously in my head to do as well as I could to try and get my option taken up. So when I found out the club were going ahead with that I did feel rewarded. The plan for me now is to hopefully break into the Fulham team and play more regularly than I have done in the past and really push on.”

Woodrow won’t rule out Burton return

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Cauley Woodrow is open to a potential return to Burton Albion after successfully helping the Brewers retain their Championship status season.

The England under-21 international, who scored the fifth goal of his loan spell yesterday against play-off contenders Reading, will return to Fulham to resolve his short-term future this summer but hasn’t ruled out the opportunity of linking up with Nigel Clough’s side in the future.

Woodrow told the Burton Mail after the final game of the season:

I don’t really know to be fair – I’ve got to speak to my agent and speak to Fulham. hey’re obviously in control of my future because they are my club, but I wouldn’t rule it out coming back here, because I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

But anything can happen in the future, and you’ve just got to wait and see. I wouldn’t say yes and I wouldn’t say no. Like I said, Fulham are in control of what’s going to happen. If they want me to go back there and play next season, then they want me to stay there. I can’t really choose where I want to go. If the opportunity did come back, then I definitely wouldn’t rule it out.

The 22 year-old scored five goals in 15 appearances for the Brewers as he and fellow Fulham loanee Lasse Vigen Christensen gave a real boost to Burton’s survival bid. The first team football was also vital for Woodrow, who had made just one league start all campaign for Fulham, and the striker’s focus now switches to representing England at the European Under 21 championships this summer.

Hopefully I get called up for England in the European Under-21 Championships this summer. That would be a great achievement for me. Then we’ll just see from there really.