The Slavisa Jokanovic era has started with a bang. Although the new Fulham head coach was not in the dugout, his presence was felt at the Cottage, adding to an electric atmosphere. An inspired attacking performance by Cauley Woodrow, Ross McCormack, and Alexander Kacaniklic propelled Fulham to a much needed victory, their first since Kit Symons was sacked.
The major shock before kickoff was that Moussa Dembele was conspicuously absent from the lineup, sparking rumors of a January move. It was later revealed he suffered an injury in training, but his replacement, Cauley Woodrow, wasted no time in establishing his claim for a starting role.
Fulham got a dream start when Parker played a through ball to McCoramck, who deftly let it go. It fell kindly for Woodrow one on one with the keeper, and he made no mistake with the finish, rounding the keeper and slotting into an empty net. Cue jubilation and relief around Craven Cottage, as Fulham had the lead within 6 minutes.
The lively Alexander Kacaniklic almost made it 2-0 shortly after when his left footed strike went inches wide of the far post. But Fulham's inability to defend from set pieces came back to haunt them yet again in the 20th minute. Rotherham defender Farrend Rawson slammed home from a corner after Fulham failed to clear their lines. Rotherham began to grow into the game and winger Grant Ward gave Tim Ream a host of problems at the back.
McCormack then squandered a lovely chance to put Fulham in front when he shot straight at Lee Camp in the Rotherham goal, and then put his head down when he perhaps could have got the rebound.
The half appeared as if it was going to end all square, but a moment of brilliance between the two strikers made sure Fulham were in front. McCormack whipped in a lovely cross from the right, and Woodrow did well to direct it home to make it 2-1. It was a crucial goal that gave the Cottagers breathing space and the confidence to push on in the second half.
Fulham started the second half well, keeping possession comfortably and bossing play. The Whites extended their lead in the 59th minute when McCormack released Woodrow down the right after some lovely skills, and Woodrow drove to the byline and found Kacaniklic in the box, who swept home to make it 3-1. It was a fantastic team goal, and a thoroughly deserved one for the Swede, one of Fulham's few remaining players from the Premier League era.
McCormack grabbed a goal ten minutes later, volleying past Camp from close range to secure an emphatic victory. An impressive overall performance from the Whites, in which Dan Burn and Richard Stearman looked commanding at the back, Emerson Hyndman delivered another hard working shift, and the movement of McCormack, Kacaniklic, and Woodrow was outstanding.
Here's to a successful 2016 for Fulham Football Club. With a new manager, and hopefully some newfound confidence, who knows where the year might take us. COYW!