Cottagers cruise into quarter-finals

The League Two club, who have a winding-up order hanging over them

from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, was sold for £1 to Ray

Trew and then saw Sven-Goran Eriksson resign as director of

football. However, there was no cup fairytale to lift their chaotic

season. Despite playing well in the first half and creating

chances, goals from Simon Davies and Bobby Zamora gave Fulham a

two-goal lead, then Damien Duff and Stefano Okaka added to the

scoreline in the second period. Caretaker boss Dave Kevan will be

encouraged with his side’s performances in patches, however,

particularly as the club have been in turmoil off the pitch and

were not expected to trouble a team in the top 10 of the Premier

League. At the start of the season, County were talking about

eventually rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fulham on a regular

basis – but the short-term aim now is for the club not to be wound

up. They return to League Two action against Grimsby on Wednesday

and restart their hunt for promotion, with the hope clubs from

their own division will not create as many chances as Fulham. As

expected, the hosts made most of the early running. Luckily for

them Zamora fired just wide after latching on to Chris Baird’s pass

and spinning around Jamie Clapham. Kasper Schmeichel was then

called into action when Davies slipped a clever pass through the

County defence. David Elm checked back to get rid of John Thompson

but then had his finish blocked by the Danish goalkeeper. The

visitors had their first efforts on goal when Craig Westcarr went

wide from the edge of the area, then Ben Davies had a long-range

effort tipped over. From the resulting corner, Lee Hughes had sight

of goal and time to finish – but his effort was too close to Fulham

goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Despite encouraging signs, County were

behind midway through the first half following a move started by

Danny Murphy’s delicate chip to Davies on the edge of the area. The

Wales midfielder had his back to goal but moved just inside the

penalty area and fired on the turn, through Thompson’s legs and

into Schmeichel’s far corner for his first goal of the campaign.

Fulham came close to doubling the lead just before the half-hour

mark when Zamora won the ball in midfield and found Duff, but

Schmeichel was equal to the finish after the winger had cut inside.

County themselves were close to levelling just before Zamora made

it 2-0, with Westcarr latching on to a flick by Hughes and forcing

Schwarzer to save at full stretch. Zamora made County pay for their

miss when he collected Elm’s backheel and lashed past Schmeichel

four minutes before the break. County continued to attack after the

break despite the setback of Zamora’s goal just before the

interval. Davies kept trying his luck from long distance and two

attempts went just wide of Schwarzer’s upright. There was plenty of

effort from the visitors but Fulham showed enough experience to

hold them at bay, and they looked threatening on the counter-attack

themselves. Kevan made a change just after the hour mark, bringing

on Luke Rodgers for Clapham to add numbers in attack. Duff’s goal

came 16 minutes from the end after Zamora slipped him through down

the right flank, the Republic of Ireland winger cutting inside and

firing home through Johnnie Jackson’s legs. Okaka took just three

minutes to score after coming off the bench, racing through and

firing powerfully past Schmeichel.