Lee Barnard’s scream in anguish after he angled the final chance of the encounter just wide from close range just about summed it up – it was one of those night’s where it just wasn’t to be.
There was no shortage of attacking options as Clive Allen started with what amounted to a front four with Barnard the lone striker, Andy Barcham and Emil Hallfredsson pushed high up the flanks and Adel Taarabt playing just off the front.
After a quiet start the game came to life after six minutes when Barnard received a pass from Barcham and instantly drilled in a shot that Corrin Brooks-Meade did well to palm away down to his right.
The Fulham keeper made a similar save to keep out a Jamie O’Hara effort before play switched to the other end and Forecast was called upon to make a fine save at full-length to deny Bjorn Runstrom from the edge of the box. Fulham went close from the ensuing corner as Matthew Briggs headed down and O’Hara hacked off the line.
The game played out in midfield for a period after that as Fulham denied us space, Taarabt was well marshalled as he tried in vain to make things happen and Barnard fought a physical battle with the visitors’ defence.
It took until the 36th minute for the next action of note and another clearance off the line as Jake Livermore met Hallfredsson’s deep corner with a looping header that beat Brooks-Meade only for James to volley away.
James’ next contribution was even more impressive. Picking up the ball in the left channel, 30 yards from goal, the midfielder shifted onto his right foot before hitting a curler that was destined for the top corner from the moment it left his boot, a real bolt out of the blue for the lads to overcome.
David Hutton entered the fray for Hallfredsson at half-time, taking his position on the right, Barcham on the left.
It took only three minutes for Brooks-Meade to deny us again in the second half as Briggs trod on the ball and Taarabt pounced, beat Elliot Omozusi only for the keeper to block his effort with his legs.
Fulham hit back with Forecast palming out Runstrom’s header after 58 minutes, Taarabt then stung Brooks-Meade’s fingers with a rasper and Charlie Lee hammered over from distance.
O’Hara also tried his luck from 20 yards before Barnard carved out that final chance for himself. He did all the hard work in twisting and turning his way past two defenders only to curl wide of the target from six yards – when Barney misses the target like that, perhaps you know it’s not your night.
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Our reserves played the frustration game as Chris James' fine strike secured a 1-0 victory for Fulham at Stevenage on Monday night.James curled home the only goal of the game in the 38th minute, an unstoppable effort from 25 yards that flew into Tommy Forecast’s top corner.