BURTON ALBION 0-2 FULHAMBurton Albion's run of home defeats extended to five games this evening as second half goals from Norwegian Stefan Johansen and former Brewers loanee Scott Malone sealed a 2-0 victory for play-off chasing Fulham.
The side from Craven Cottage proved too hot to handle for Albion in the second half turning in one of the best visiting performances seen at the Pirelli this season after an opening forty-five minutes where chances were at a premium and Slavisa Jokanovic's side were closed down at every opportunity to deny them a clear chance on goal. A poor pass on the halfway line just three minutes after half time opened the door for Johansen to fire home from the edge of the box and when Malone finished a rapier-like counter attack with a little under twenty minutes to go Albion were left with too much to do in their quest to try and record back to back league victories for the first time this season.
Nigel Clough made two changes, both enforced as the Brewers looked to capitalise on their away win at QPR on Saturday. With John Brayford ruled out by the knee injury that forced him off in the opening minutes at Loftus Road skipper John Mousinho carried on where he left off on Saturday in the middle of the back four. Loan signing Lasse Vigen Christensen, impressive with his quality on the ball against QPR, was unable to play against his parent club. Lucas Akins returned in his place on the right hand side of midfield. Albion were also without recent signings Cauley Woodrow and Michael Kightly who were both ineligible to play in this fixture while Kyle McFadzean remained on the injured list.
A lively start saw Fulham pressing, mainly down their right through raiding full back Ryan Fredericks. He almost cut Burton open on seven minutes putting a low cross into the D where Chris Martin missed his kick and Sone Aluko was quickly closed down to snuff out the danger.
Jackson Irvine almost capitalised on a poor headed backpass from Tim Ream towards his keeper, David Button coming off his line to get a deflection to Irvine's lob just as they both got to the ball at about the same time.
Albion continued to look threatening and when Damien McCrory slid a pass in behind Fredericks for Lloyd Dyer to run onto Button had to come out smartly to block as the Burton winger got there first and tried to guide the ball past him.
Fulham continued to probe at the other end and skipper Tom Cairney was often at the heart of their best moments. On 19 minutes he found himself with room inside the box to pick out former Albion loanee Scott Malone on the edge of the box with a nicely clipped pass that invited the left back to set himself for a volley that was always rising over the crossbar.
Cairney was afforded too much time on the half hour to roam forward and look for a curled shot into the top corner. He might have found it too had there not been a vital deflection on his effort to take it out for a corner. At this stage Fulham were just looking a tad sharper on the ball and more comfortable in possession.
Fulham created some pressure with a flurry of corners but once again Malone was wayward with his final effort from the edge of the box. It was closer than his first effort but still off target.
Another well constructed passing move three minutes before the break created a chance for deep lying midfielder Kevin McDonald to get forward, his shot also failing to trouble Jon McLaughlin, rising all the time as it went past the goal.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Fulham
Fulham needed just three minutes of the second half to grab the lead as Albion carelessly conceded possession on half way and allowed the visitors to break. Lloyd Dyer's pass to McCrory fell short allowing Sone Aluko to steal possession and burst towards the Burton box. Albion managed to get bodies back but were unable to stop the ball being laid across the penalty area where Stefan JOHANSEN drilled home from 18 yards.
Johansen sent another shot fizzing across the face of goal as the Londoners stepped up a gear and Fulham thought they had a second from Chris MArtin on 55 minutes when he tapped in at the back post but an offside flag had long gone up to deny the on loan Derby striker.
Clough called upon Chris O'Grady just after the hour mark as a different option up front. The big striker had not been on the pitch long before he was shown a yellow card. Bundling into defender Tomas Kalas looked clumsy at worst with the on loan Chelsea defender kicking out in frustration as he fell to the floor.
O'Grady forced Button into a comfortable save, heading an Akins cross straight at the keeper. Fulham swept quickly upfield and another pacy burst from Aluko took him deep into the penalty area forcing an excellent save from McLaughlin although an offside flag belatedly went up against two Fulham attackers blocking the view of the Albion keeper.
Fulham exploited their lighting pace on the wings to double their advantage on 71 minutes. Albion again lost possession and were under pressure, back pedalling as Lucas Piazon picked up the ball and played in MALONE on the overlap, the full back lashing a left foot shot beyond McLaughlin.
The visitors looked rampant now and only an excellent save from McLaughlin denied Chelsea Lucas Piazon before Cairney tried an ambitious lob that just cleared the bar and landed on the roof of the net.
Albion sent on Tom Naylor and Will Miller in place of Luke Murphy and Lloyd Dyer but the Londoners were well in control of the game. O'Grady flashed a left foot shot wide from the edge of the box and in a late scramble in the box from a corner Irvine's header was blocked before O'Grady fired high over from a corner.
Johansen almost had a second with a late free kick but McLaughlin got down well to deny him in the bottom corner before referee Tony Harrington brought the game to an end.