Preston 1-2 Fulham: Cottagers record second straight win at Deepdale
By PA sport
Last Updated: 13/08/16 6:18pm
Fulham made it back-to-back wins in the Sky Bet Championship with an impressive 2-1 victory over Preston at Deepdale.
Goals either side of half-time from Sone Aluko and Matt Smith put Fulham in control and although substitute Callum Robinson pulled a goal back for Preston, it was not enough to prevent the hosts from slumping to successive defeats.
After an open start to the game, Fulham had the first real sight on goal in the 18th minute, when Tom Cairney's free-kick from the left touchline was nodded high and wide by Smith when under pressure 12 yards out.
And the visitors threatened again three minutes later when the same duo combined once more. Smith's knock-down fell for Cairney, whose volley from 30 yards had Anders Lindegaard beaten but dropped onto the roof of the net.
The Cottagers were getting huge joy down the left flank and Smith was involved again, stretching to meet Scott Malone's cross but heading wide.
Preston produced the first shot on target after half an hour, when Eoin Doyle glanced Paul Gallagher's free-kick goalwards but it was straight at David Button.
Fulham were the better side, though, and deservedly went ahead after 33 minutes. They capitalised on chaotic Preston defending as Alan Browne's clearance was hit straight against McDonald and looped up for Aluko, who nodded home from four yards.
The Cottagers thought they had doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, when Smith headed in Cairney's corner, but the striker was leaning on Tom Clarke.
Aluko was proving to be a constant threat and he strolled through the Preston defence again on the hour mark, teeing up Smith who should have hit the target but curled his shot over.
And less than two minutes later, Slavisa Jokanovic's side sliced through Preston again, this time setting Floyd Ayite through but his shot was pushed away by Lindegaard at his near post.
Preston threatened with a dangerous Gallagher cross to the far post after 67 minutes, but Fulham cleared and launched a devastating counter-attack. Cairney cut through the heart of the Lilywhites defence and teed up Smith, who slotted past Lindegaard at the second attempt to double the lead.
Simon Grayson's side would not give up, though. Two substitutes came on and the pair combined to pull a goal back four minutes later as Jermaine Beckford's cross was powered into the net at the far post by Robinson with a diving header.
The game opened up and Fulham almost restored their two-goal lead on 76 minutes when Aluko smuggled the ball to Scott Parker, but his shot was smothered by Lindegaard.
In a dramatic finish, Preston thought they had snatched an equaliser with three minutes remaining, but agonisingly for the home side Beckford was flagged offside when nodding in from six yards.