Preston 1-2 Fulham: Aleksandar Mitrovic hits injury-time winner
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 10/03/18 7:39pm
Aleksandar Mitrovic struck the winner deep into stoppage time as Fulham clinched a 2-1 victory over fellow promotion chasers Preston at Deepdale.
The Serbian striker notched his second goal of the game to make it four successive wins for the Cottagers, who move up to third in the Sky Bet Championship table. It is just a third defeat in 21 games for Preston, who drop to four points off the play-off places.
The Lilywhites started the game brightly with two openings in the first five minutes. A mistake from Denis Odoi allowed Sean Maguire to break in behind, but the forward misplaced his cross before Callum Robinson hit the target from the edge of the area after four minutes.
Marcus Bettinelli was forced into more serious action after 13 minutes as Preston full-back Darnell Fisher unleashed a powerful drive from 18 yards which was safely tipped round the post by the Fulham keeper.
VOTE: EFL Goals of the Month
Watch and vote for the best Sky Bet EFL Goals of the Month for February in the Championship, League One and League Two.
Fulham missed a golden chance to take the lead with their first real attack after 18 minutes as Stefan Johansen broke in behind and squared for Mitrovic, but he could not find the open goal from six yards.
Slavisa Jokanovic's side threatened again two minutes later as a fierce strike from Matt Targett was well held by Declan Rudd.
In an even first half, Fulham were showing more quality going forward and were almost ahead after 32 minutes when Ryan Fredericks flashed a ball across the six-yard box which just evaded the sliding Ryan Sessegnon at the far post.
Maguire, who has notched the winner for Preston in his last two matches after spending four months out, had a chance for Preston after 41 minutes but was denied by Bettinelli in a one-on-one.
Preston had keeper Rudd to thank for keeping the scores level just after the break as he leapt to his left to tip Floyd Ayite's 25-yard strike over the bar.
But, after a chanceless period, it was Fulham who broke the deadlock after 69 minutes. Cyrus Christie was brought on at full-back and two minutes later he crossed from the right for Mitrovic, who fired in right-footed from 12 yards.
Davies came close to an equaliser after 75 minutes, but his effort from eight yards was superbly pushed away by Bettinelli low to his right.
But the Fulham keeper was not so impressive a minute later. Ben Pearson picked out Maguire six yards out and his header was fumbled into the back of his net by Bettinelli to give Preston the equaliser.
It was Fulham who took home all three points, though, as Cairney's delightful lofted cross to the back post was nodded in by Mitrovic.
Alex Neil: "I don't think the best team won the game. People talk about Fulham being the best team in the division. I thought we were the better side, we had the better chances. For how much ball we had at the top end of the pitch we need to hurt them a little bit more.
"I thought my team were brilliant, I really did. I think our naivety at the end is what has probably cost us. I'm critical when I don't think we've played well but I thought we didn't everything I asked of them today."
Slavisa Jokanovic: "I have to be satisfied. It is massive for us in one of the toughest away games we played. We knew what we would find here, they put us under lots of pressure, we didn't find it in the first 45 minutes but in the second half we grew up and we showed great spirit.
"We pushed hard after they scored and we realised we are still in a strong position to win the game and in the end it's credit for the ambition and the quality that they showed today, especially at the end of the match. We know Aleksandar can help us and at the end all the players like Aleksandar deserve to be satisfied and happy with our performance."