Sun 13 February N/A

Molly Thorns started on Sunday as Chloe Lelliott dropped to the bench, where she was joined by the fit again Katie Cooper and the well again Becky Simmons.

A cold, wet and windy afternoon made conditions difficult for both sides but it was the visitors who got the action underway with a flowing team move initiated by Becs Bell.

A great first touch followed by a fine turn saw the speed machine release Emily Linscer – along the inside-left channel – who helped the ball, first time, onto Sophie Humphrey. The forward drifted across to a more central position before unleashing an effort that flew wide of the target.

Less than a minute later and right on the quarter-hour mark Captain Hannah Hewlett came even closer, when she let fly from distance; requiring a fingertip save from last line of defence Edie Kelly to stop her shot squeezing in under the crossbar.

Chances were coming along like London Busses, thanks to Helen Ogle having the Lilwhites’ opening opportunity less than sixty seconds further in. Unfortunately for the home number seven, she couldn’t quite make a decent enough contact and sent her attempt the wrong side of the post.

Only the width of the crossbar prevented Gemma Taylor from breaking the deadlock shortly afterwards; revealing a very rare vision of visiting goalie Lauren Dolbear well beaten for once. Linscer being penalized for a challenge on Lily Lambird just outside the penalty area, which offered a sight of goal.

Fulham were enjoying a period of pressure that almost led to the aforementioned Taylor teeing up a teammate in the box, until a timely tackle by Keavy Price put paid to any cross going into the middle.

A foul day, in terms of the weather, then got the better of both teams for a while as, ironically, the chances, at least, dried up.

However, five minutes before the break a mistake at the back by Tia Foreman let in Linscer who, quick as a flash, pounced on the loose ball and soon found herself one-on-one with ‘keeper Kelly. Motspur’s number one did well to divert the danger as she made sure the scoresheet remained blank.

Half-time changes resulted in Price and Thorns making way for Lelliott and Cooper, with Ellie Olds replacing Oana Negrea for the hosts.

They had an immediate impact for those in blue, when Lelliott played a delightful slide-rule pass through the centre of the pitch for Gemma Worsfold to run onto. Only for the stretching striker to toe poke through to Kelly after the faintest of heavy touches.

Just past the hour, Ella Newman went on one of her trademark bursts down the left wing; breaking clear of a haze of white shirts, then trying to catch out Kelly via an audacious, though not unusual attempt from tight to the touchline, which the Cottagers’ custodian clutched at the second time of asking.

Corners and crosses then led to two in ten for the home team.

Firstly, Taylor’s teaser from the right ended up with her flag-kick heading narrowly over the bar, off the dome of Skipper (Mary) Southgate, near the front stick.

Succeeded ten minutes later by Foreman floating a delivery to the same area that an incoming Georgia Heasman couldn’t keep down, arriving at such a speed.

More set-piece stress forced an alert Charlie Carter to clear off the line ahead of a sea of, by this late stage, off-white shirts.

Star player Dolbear punched another deadball delivery out, after Cooper was penalised for a foul on the far side. Her frustration momentarily getting the better of her as she picked up the only caution of the game for subsequently kicking the ball away.

The imaginary board to signal stoppages drew ever nearer, as Worsfold was rather harshly punished for a perceived backpass, following nothing more than an interception to a right flank cross that an initially hesitant Dolbear gathered.

Taylor choosing the option of a short pass to Olds, whose powerful close-range drive went under a diving Dolbear but Newman was ideally placed to mop up by getting rid to avoid late heartbreak.

An offside flag ensured the scoreboard would remain unblemished as the high-flying homesters threatened to nab all three points.

Something that replacement Lucy Apps came close to doing herself, a matter of minutes after entering the fray, when she charged down Becky Stormer’s attempted clearance.

Relief all round followed for Fulham thanks to a calm collection by Kelly as the ball ran safely through.