Dembele’s goal gives Fulham crucial victory

Moussa Dembele, Fulham

Preston 1 Fulham 2

Fulham had Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele to thank once again as they secured back-to-back victories for the first time since October to boost their Championship survival hopes.

The prolific strike partnership took their tally to 35 between them with a goal in either half, and a host of results went Fulham’s way to lift them seven points clear of danger.

In their first trip to Deepdale for more than 15 years, the Whites were grateful to goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli for an early save – and within a couple of minutes went up the other end and took the lead.

Tim Ream clipped the ball forward and McCormack sneaked in behind the Preston defence, rounded their keeper Anders Lindegaard and slotted home.

Preston were forced into two substitutions in the first 25 minutes, losing both captain Tom Clarke and Calum Woods to injury.

Joe Garner was their primary threat and he went close twice shortly before half-time, first forcing Bettinelli into a save at his near post and then nodding narrowly over the bar from a corner.

Lindegaard kept out a firmly struck McCormack shot early in the second half but Preston gradually pinned Fulham back and they were rewarded with an equaliser on 64 minutes.

Manchester United loanee Marnick Vermijl, who had come on for Woods, drifted in from the right-hand side, beat a couple of players and drilled a shot in off the right leg of Bettinelli from a tight angle.

But parity lasted just 10 minutes, with McCormack’s free-kick palmed out by Lindegaard into the path of Dembele, who snapped up the rebound.

Fulham were the only team in the bottom seven to win and, after also beating MK Dons on Saturday, now have a healthier cushion.

Fulham: Bettinelli; Fredericks, Madl (Burn 90), Amorebieta, Ream (Stearman 46); Cairney (O’Hara 58), Parker, Ince, Tunnicliffe; McCormack, Dembele.
Subs not used: Lonergan, Garbutt, O’Hara, Smith.