Fulham 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Slavisa Jokanovic loses first game
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 02/01/16 7:04pm
New Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic lost his first game in charge as play-off chasing Sheffield Wednesday recorded a deserved 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage.
A sublime first-half strike from Ross Wallace settled the match as Wednesday's third win in four matches moved them within two points of the top six.
Jokanovic, who was confirmed as head coach earlier this week, received a warm reception from the home fans, but Fulham failed to reproduce the flowing, attacking football that saw them register their first win in 10 matches against Rotherham on Tuesday.
Defeat against the Owls saw Fulham drop to 19th in the table, just six above the drop zone, and they take on Wednesday once again next week in the FA Cup.
It was a cagey opening and the first hint of a chance arrived on five minutes as former Fulham target Gary Hooper slipped the wrong side of his marker, but his looping header from Liam Palmer's cross fell the wrong side of the post.
Fulham began to assert themselves and Sakari Mattila, making just his fourth Championship start following his summer arrival, was prominent in the early exchanges as he broke up the play and started attacks.
On 14 minutes, Mattila released Alex Kacaniklic, whose cross was perfect but Jamie O'Hara shot narrowly wide.
Emerson Hyndman had a decent strike well saved by visiting keeper Joe Wildsmith and O'Hara once again tried his luck from distance, shaving the outside of the post with a powerful left-footed strike.
But Wednesday are flying high under manager Carlos Carvalhal for a reason.
In the first 30 minutes they were organised and fiercely competitive in midfield, while wide-men Wallace and Fernando Forestieri added guile to their attacks -something the former demonstrated perfectly in the 29th minute.
Wallace cut in from the right onto his stronger left foot and unleashed a wonderful strike from 30 yards - a shot Fulham goalkeeper Andy Lonergan could get nowhere near.
Fulham, who did not do much wrong in the first half, momentarily thought they had levelled, but Ross McCormack's effort from Moussa Dembele's through ball was chalked off for offside.
Possession but little penetration hindered Fulham after the break and it was Wednesday who almost doubled their lead.
Barry Bannan produced the pass of the match as his 40-yard through ball dropped perfectly at the feet of Hooper, but his first touch was heavy and Lonergan sprinted off his line, narrowed the angle and blocked the shot.
The visitors were the better team and Hooper, on loan from Norwich, should have scored a second for Wednesday when he latched on Atdhe Nuhiu's flick-on, but his lob wasn't quite high enough and Lonergan saved.
Jokanovic utilised his bench as Scott Parker, Luke Garbutt and Cauley Woodrow attempted to find a way through the Wednesday rearguard.
Woodrow, perhaps unlucky not to start following his brace against Rotherham, came closest, but his free header from Jazz Richards' cross was directed over the bar.
"It's normal I am disappointed with the result. But I cannot be disappointed with the performance. We play 60 minutes of very good football, they score a fantastic goal and with this goal they get the three points."
"I think we deserved the victory. The time we scored the goal was important because we were not playing well and Fulham had more of the ball. But football is like this and after the goal a lot of things changed in the game. Especially in the second half we had a lot of control of the game."