REPORT: ALBION 2 FULHAM 1
- Kevin McDonald gives Fulham the lead
- Goals from Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray secure Albion all three points
- Albion extend their unbeaten league run to 12 games
- Brighton move to within two points of league leaders Newcastle United
Brighton & Hove Albion returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Fulham at the Amex.
Kevin McDonald gave the Cottagers the lead with a header in the first half, but a goal each from Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray handed Albion all three points.
The result ensured the Seagulls closed the gap on league leaders Newcastle United to just two points, after their 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Fulham started the match in a lively fashion, passing the ball about well, but Albion had the first opportunity of the game when Jamie Murphy cut inside from the right and saw his effort saved by David Button.
Floyd Ayite played a defence-splitting ball towards Sone Aluko, who got past David Stockdale, but the linesman’s flag was raised.
Murray ended a superb free-flowing Albion move after Anthony Knockaert found the Seagulls' frontman with a brilliant pass, but David Button tipped his shot over the bar.
The Cottagers broke the deadlock in the 18th minute when McDonald peeled away at the far post from a corner and saw his header cross the line, despite Steve Sidwell’s best efforts to clear the ball.
Ayite attempted to double Fulham’s advantage with a shot from distance, but it swerved past the far post.
The midfielder came much closer with his next attempt, as his strike from distance took a deflection off Sidwell and forced Stockdale into an excellent one-handed save.
It could have easily been 2-0 when the Cottagers carved open the Albion defence, but Stockdale was on hand to keep out Scott Malone’s close-range drive.
Malone was involved in the action again when his cross-shot produced yet another one-handed stop from Stockdale.
But parity was restored in emphatic fashion with 53 minutes on the clock, as Baldock rifled home an unstoppable volley on the edge of the box from Tamas Kalas’s attempted clearance.
There was a moment of controversy in an off-the-ball incident when Stefan Johansen appeared to punch Baldock in the chest, but referee Keith Stroud took no action.
The final half an hour was played at a frenetic pace and Stockdale was called into action again to keep out a deflected drive from Denis Odoi.
Fulham continued to look threatening in a bid to re-establish their lead, as Aluko’s shot from distance went over the target.
Baldock came within inches of giving Albion the lead for the first time when his close-range strike cannoned off the post and into David Button’s grateful hands.
But the Seagulls did get their second goal in the 79th minute when Baldock floated in a superb ball towards Murray who coolly fired a first-time shot beyond Button.
After a goal and an assist each, Baldock was given a standing ovation by the Amex crowd when he was replaced by Oliver Norwood with six minutes remaining.
In a nervy final few moments Tom Cairney ended a free-flowing Fulham move, but Stockdale saved his shot and the Seagulls claimed a valuable victory.