Kettering 2 Fulham 4
In the aftermath of the departure of Jimmy Bullard, there was the little matter of a 4th round FA Cup tie with Kettering Town to contend with.
In the end it proved that the FA Cup is still a magical competition as Fulham just edged out their brave non-league opponents in a six goal thriller.
With Bullard gone, the midfield had a strange look to it. Murphy was rested and the central places were occupied by Etuhu and Andreasen. Other changes made saw Stoor picked in place of Pantsil and Gera in place of Zamora with Dempsey pushing up alongside Johnson.
At a compact and noisy Rockingham Road the game got underway and the hosts were almost gifted an early goal when a long ball was misjudged by Schwarzer and Hangeland.
But, any fears of a shock should have been eased in the twelfth minute when Fulham took the lead with a great volley from Simon Davies from a Dempsey cross.
Kettering, unfortunately, were not prepared to lie down and die though and deservedly equalised after thirty-six minutes when Westcarr saw his shot deflected past the disappointed Schwarzer. Our hosts even had a penalty claim denied as the pressure mounted.
Half time came and it was all to play for in the second half.
Kettering refused to buckle and Seddon saw his effort go wide of the post. As the action switched from end to end Dempsey saw a header claimed by the keeper before Fulham gradually started to gain the upper hand.
Konchesky saw a volley go close and Hodgson looked to seal matters at the first attempt by throwing on Murphy and Zamora in place of Etuhu and Gera.
The move looked to have paid dividends in the seventy-seventh minute when Murphy saw his shot deflected past Harper in the Kettering goal. Surely Fulham could hang on for those last thirteen, plus stoppage time, minutes.
Kettering, still cheered on by a vociferous crowd forced a penalty and the offended player, Westcarr, scored from the spot.
The nation were now baying for a massive cup shock, praying that Fulham would become the first Premier League team in twenty years to be beaten by non-league opposition.
Thankfully it was not to happen.
With two minutes left Andy Johnson made it 3-2 and when, a minute later, Bobby Zamora made it 4-2 the brave 'Poppies` were beaten.
But, all credit to our hosts, they gave us an almighty scare and we`d like to wish them all the best for the rest of the season.
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