Fulham leave it late but Onomah finally breaks Birmingham City resistance
Fulham 1 Birmingham City 0
Josh Onomah came off the bench to sweep home an injury-time winner for the Whites – just when it seemed they would pay the price for taking so long to get going.
Even allowing for the absence of the suspended Aleksandar Mitrovic, it was puzzling that the Whites should be so toothless in attack and lacking creativity during a dreadful first half.
They improved greatly after the break, with Anthony Knockaert at the forefront of all their best attacks, but the winner seemed to have eluded them until Harrison Reed clipped a ball inside for the midfielder to roll into the bottom corner.
It was the 23-year-olds's second strike for the club – the first having come in the December win against Leeds United.
It secured back-to-back wins for the Whites and keeps alive their outside hopes of automatic promotion – albeit with games running out.
The early signs were not so promising for the Whites, who have been fitful since Championship football resumed two weeks ago.
Michael Hector’s form was patchy at QPR in midweek and he nearly got off to a calamitous start with a weak backpass which invited Birmingham starlet Jude Bellingham into a clear run on goal.
It was lucky for the Fulham defender that the coveted youngster – Borussia Dortmund apparently the chief suitors - got his feet in a tangle and that Marek Rodak was able to block.
And the Whites got lucky when a goalmouth scramble ended with a header against an upright from Bellingham, before Marc Roberts almost stole in to head home the subsequent corner at the far post.
After a worryingly feeble first half, the Whites needed to up their game and Knockaert’s curler just over the bar suggested Fulham were ready to raise their game, but it was a while before the summoned another dangerous shot – Knockaert just bending an effort wide of a post.
The winger came closer after a cutback from Ivan Cavaleiro and although this one was finally on target, it was no trouble for Blues keeper Lee Camp.
It did seem that only Knockaert was capable of breaking the deadlock for Fulham and he almost got on the end of a ball played in from the left which eluded the last defender. His effort hit the side-netting.
The Whites built some momentum as the match entered its business end and after Onomah had stretched Camp from outside the area, Joe Bryan’s shot from afar had been blocked by Camp, the Blues keeper got up to deny Bobby Reid with his follow-up attempt.
Tom Cairney clipped the wall with a flighted free-kick as Scott Parker’s men cranked it up still further, and with the home side tempo finally upped, and City stretched, one more chance was created that was finally put away.
Fulham: Rodak – Christie, Hector, Ream, Odoi (Bryan h/t) – Arter (Onomah 60), Reed – Knockaert (Jasper 88), Cairney, Cavaleiro (Kebano 70) – Reid. Subs not used: Bettineli, McDonald, Johansen, LeMarchand, Sessegnon