Fulham could not muster a second half comeback against Aston Villa on Saturday, but in seasons gone by the Whites have staged resilient comebacks in encounters where a damning loss was virtually written on the walls.
It’s also nearly been two years since the Cottagers beat Reading 4-2 after being 2 goals behind at home, so in homage to that particular scalp against the Royals, here are 5 of the best comebacks in the club’s rich existence.
Portsmouth 4-4 Fulham – 1st January 1985
Before the blustery New Years Day outing at Fratton Park, Fulham were enjoying a three-game unbeaten streak, although the Whites’ festive bubble was more or less popped within the first 40 minutes of the tie, with Pompey notching 4 goals past the seemingly bleary, hungover south-west Londoners.
Dean Coney did manage to grab what was seen to have been a mere consolation for Ray Harford’s contingent, but as the tie ticked down to the final 15-minutes of play the prospect of Fulham finding any further luck appeared impossible.
However Fulham defied all the odds and stepped-up their performance with proceedings entering the latter stages. Goals from Leroy Rosenior and Gary Barnett meant that the Whites were in touching distance of a draw, and when Kevin Lock dispatched a penalty following a foul in the box from Noel Blake on Cliff Carr, Harford’s squad indeed left the south-coast with a hard-fought point.
Fulham 2-1 Hamburg – 29th April 2010
After a goalless draw in Germany at the Nordbank Arena, Fulham had it all to do in the semi-final second-leg against Hamburg in the Europa League’s inaugural tournament, though the Bundesliga club were not prepared to whimper and roll over easily against their English counterparts. It took Hamburg 22 minutes to land a vital away goal at Craven Cottage through striker Mladen Petric, who’s perfectly dispatched free-kick left Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer scrambling at thin air.
Nails were bitten to the bone in the terraces, but Fulham’s players valiantly stepped up to the plate in what is arguably one of the club’s greatest matches at the Cottage, given the magnitude of the encounter. In-front of a raucous home crowd, Simon Davis slotted finish past Frank Rost made the scoreline one apiece in the 69th minute, blowing the defining fixture wide open.
Hamburg still had the advantage due to away goals; but galvanised by their equaliser, Fulham dug deep and were rewarded for their tenacity when Zoltan Gera slammed the ball home from a corner. The Hammersmith end exploded as the Hungarian midfielder fell to his knees in jubilation. Fulham held out on a nervous last few minutes, and claimed their place in a major European cup final, one of the most sublime footballing feats in the club’s vast history.
Carlisle United 1-2 Fulham – 5th April 1997
Promotion was on the agenda when 3rd placed Fulham travelled to 2nd placed Carlisle United, and with just one solitary point separating the two parties prior to kick-off, the game at Brunton Park was seen to be a ‘six-point’ affair. Micky Adams’ Fulham did find themselves trailing within 20 minutes, though, as a 20-year-old Rory Delap headed United into an early lead, meaning Adams had some rallying to do in the dressing room at half-time.
After the break Fulham quicly issued a reply through Mick Conroy, the club’s top-scorer that season. With the wind in their sails, it then only took the Whites 4 minutes to flip the tie on its head, with Rodney McAree pounding his effort into the back of the net to gloriously gift his team the upper-hand. Fulham toiled to deny Carlisle an equaliser and intrepidly weathered the storm, successfully securing a key victory on the road whilst grasping promotion to the second division with 5 games of the domestic calendar to spare.
Manchester City 2-3 Fulham – 26th April 2008
It truly was the start of the ‘great escape’ for Fulham, but with Manchester City having a two goal cushion at the interval, things looked bleak and desolate from a Fulham fan’s perspective, with relegation from the Premier League staring them menacingly in the face. But little did City know that the Whites had a secret weapon named Diomansy Kamara at their disposal, and he was poised and ready to cause an upset at the Etihad.
Biding his time, Roy Hodgson deployed Kamara with just 20 minutes left to battle, a decision which signalled a change for the better in Fulham’s seemingly doomed bid for survival. Six minutes after his arrival, the Senegalese hit-man chalked a goal back for his side, threading a low, driven effort through Joe Hart’s legs after bamboozling Vedran Corluka. Parity was restored in the 79th minute through Danny Murphy, who fortuitously diverted past Hart after the England keeper parried his initial penalty.
Fulham were now mathematically no longer relegated, but remained thirsty for more, and during stoppage time Murphy provided Kamara with a golden opportunity to snatch the win. Latching onto a neatly threaded through ball from the veteran playmaker, Kamara strode past his opponents into the danger area and thundered a strike into the top corner of the target, ruthlessly ripping the net from its moorings, which had taken a hefty battering from Fulham in the second period.
Fulham 4-1 Juventus – 18th March 2010
Being billed as ‘David vs Goliath’, the second-leg of the Europa League quarter-final between plucky Fulham and continental heavyweights Juventus was perceived to be nothing more than a mere mismatch, with the Serie A giants travelling to CC with a 3-1 victory under their belts after the first-leg in Turin. With the match barely underway, David Trezeguet coolly crashed the ball home, giving the ‘Old Lady’ first blood.
Bobby Zamora promptly equalised for the Whites, proving that the task that lay before them was not as hopeless as it was first perceived to be. Fabio Cannavaro was the sent to the showers early with a straight red card for a cynical foul on Gera, a dismissal which sounded the horn on Juve’s sheer capitulation.
Gera scored before the break, with the scoreline dangling precariously 4-3 on aggregate in the Italian side’s favour. The energetic winger then levelled the encounter from the penalty spot at the start of the second 45 minutes; a depleted ‘Bianconeri’ were wilting and Fulham had business to settle. With extra-time looming, one of the clubs needed to land a killer blow, and that’s when Clint Dempsey tantalisingly stood an arced effort up at the back stick on the edge of the 18-yard box.
Time stood still as soon as the ball left the American’s boot in the 82 minute, and as his ingeniously crafted attempt flew goal-bound to subsequently bulge the net, euphoric cries of triumph reverberated around the Cottage. Fulham had floored one of the game’s biggest, most influential sides 5-4 over two meetings, a result which will live long in the fond memories and recollections of every current and future Fulham supporter for decades to come.