Albion’s nine-match unbeaten run, stretching to the end of last season, came to an end on a tough night in the capital.
For the first hour we struggled to find the fluency that had seen us collect ten points from our first four games and Fulham took control with two goals in six minutes at the start of the second half, through Aleksandar Mitrovic and an unfortunate own goal by skipper Lewis Dunk.
Alexis Mac Allister’s second successful spot kick of the season got Albion back in it on 58 minutes and we pressed for an equaliser in the closing stages. Leo Trossard went close and substitute Deniz Undav hit the post but Fulham held on.
There was one change in the line-up with Enock Mwepu coming in for his first start of the season as Danny Welbeck dropped to the bench.
Fulham made a strong start and Rob Sanchez was called upon after seven minutes when he pushed away Joao Palhinha’s flicked header from a corner moments after Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s cross just eluded Andreas Pereira.
Albion struggled to get a hold of the game during the opening 20 minutes with Fulham winning a lot of 50-50s and pressing relentlessly in midfield.
The visitors gradually began to enjoy some possession and fashioned their first chance in the 28th minute. Leo Trossard and Moises Caicedo combined and the Ecuadorian’s clever pass allowed Pascal Gross to fire a low shot which Bernd Leno dived to his right to save. The German midfielder then broke down the left but his cross went behind both Mwepu and Solly March.
We had another chance ten minutes later. Trossard had space on the left to pick out March with his cross but the midfielder, under pressure from Tosin, headed a couple of yards wide.
Albion would have been happy to get to the break on level terms but three minutes into the second half Fulham went in front. Mwepu’s header away from a corner appeared to have averted the danger but Tosin hooked it back into the box, Neeskens Kebano crossed low from the left and Mitrovic slid in to score his fifth goal of the season and 100th in the league for Fulham. On the balance of play it was no more than they deserved.
Yet Albion had an immediate chance to draw level when March, under pressure ten yards from goal, stabbed his shot straight at Leno. Instead, Fulham doubled their lead in the 54th minute in the most unfortunate manner possible. Having won the ball back in midfield, Fulham broke quickly and when Andreas Pereira crossed low from the left Dunk inadvertently stretched out his leg and diverted the ball low and hard past a helpless Sanchez.
It looked like being a long night for Albion but they were given a route back into the game on 59 minutes when VAR ruled that De Cordova-Reid’s hack at Pervis Estupinan in the box was a penalty. Mac Allister made no mistake from the spot and it was game on.
Potter made a triple change bringing on Welbeck, Tariq Lamptey and Kaoru Mitoma and Albion pushed for an equaliser. Mitoma began to stretch Fulham down the left and helped set up a chance for Trossard which he drilled straight at Leno. The hosts countered but De Cordova-Reid blazed a great chance into the stand.
Deniz Undav replaced Caicedo with 12 minutes to go and by Albion were dominating possession. The German thought he had equalised with two minutes to go after Welbeck’s header found him in space and although he hooked his shot past Leno it came back off the post. Lamptey’s follow-up was deflected wide and Adam Webster headed the resulting corner a couple of yards past the right-hand upright.
We still had six minutes of stoppage time but Fulham managed the closing moments well and Albion will now regroup with a home date against Leicester City on Sunday next up.
Albion: Sanchez, Veltman (Lamptey 62), Dunk, Webster, Estupinan (Mitoma 62), Mac Allister, Caicedo (Undav 78) Trossard, Mwepu (Welbeck 62), Gross, March.
Subs not used: Steele, Colwill, Alzate, Enciso, van Hecke.