Fulham fans were left bemused after watching their side fail to finish an abundance of opportunities, going down 2-1 to QPR in Saturday’s early Championship fixture at Craven Cottage.
It started as a day of celebrations for the club with the unveiling of the George Cohen MBE statue prior to the match proceedings.
Despite conceding an early penalty, Conor Washington handed QPR the lead after 20 minutes with Fulham finding an equaliser early in the second half through an unlikely source, centre-back Tim Ream.
While the Cottagers looked the most likely, they were unable to take their chances in front of goal and a 74th minute header from Idrissa Sylla would condem them to a loss after Kone Aluko missed the team’s second penalty in the final seconds of play.
It looked like the home team were headed for a dream start following an early corner when Steven Caulker challenged Ragnar Sigurdsson in the box after just five minutes.
Tom Cairney stepped up in front of the QPR away supporters only to see his shot stopped by a diving Smithies in goal.
Fulham were controlling the early possession however QPR looked dangerous on the counter and in the 20th minute produced the game’s opening goal.
After a dangerous spell in attack, Pawel Wszolek provided a ball in from the right which allowed Washington to produce a rushed shot on goal. Button was able to get a hand on the shot however was unable to deflect it outside the goal mouth and watched despairingly as the ball trickled over the line.
Fulham immediately reacted with Cairney piercing the field to put Lucas Piazon in on goal. The number 20 was able to draw the keeper before passing to Matt Smith who was unable to compose himself and side-footed the ball wide of the open goal.
Cairney continued to threaten down the middle of the pitch and went close to equalising with a shot outside the box, drifting just wide of the left-hand post.
Fulham would go into the half-time break 1-0 down despite amassing 13 shots to QPR’s 6, with accuracy the ultimate downfall – registering just two of their shots on target compared to five for the R’s.
The home side came out looking even more determined for an equaliser, pushing forward early to win a corner.
Off the back of the offensive play, Scott Parker drifted a dangerous ball into the box, forcing Smithies to make a play for it, only to see the ball fall to Ream who lashed a shot back past the keeper to make it 1-1 after 47 minutes.
Minutes later, Fulham were unlucky not to go 2-1 ahead when a Scott Parker shot had beaten Smithies only for the ball to be stopped on the line by the heel of a retreating Caulker in defence.
The Cottagers continued to dominate the second-half as the shots continued to reign in on Smithies’ goal.
Neeskens Kebano replaced Cairney in the 71st minute and within moments had a golden chance to put his team in front.
After some composed lead-up work from Parker to find his wide-man, the resulting cross gave Kebano a free-header on goal, only for the 24-year-old to miss the target from a couple yards out.
However, off the back of an increasing amount of possession in the opposition’s half, it was QPR who would strike next. A cross was delivered in from Tjaronn Chery which found a diving Sylla who headed the ball past Button to shock the home supporters.
As the game ticked over into injury-time, Jozabed went agonisingly close to equalising with his free-kick beating everything but the cross-bar. Then in the dying seconds, Fulham were awarded a penalty as the home supporters prepared to celebrate a hard-fought point.
Up stepped Sone Aluko for the decisive moment, however the 27-year-old drove the ball into the right-hand post, rebounding back into play as the referee blew full-time, handing QPR their first win at Craven Cottage since 1980.