2017/18 English FA Cup, Round 3
  • James Ward-Prowse (29')

Southampton secure morale-boosting victory over Fulham

Southampton eased the pressure on manager Mauricio Pellegrino with a deserved 1-0 victory at Fulham in the third round of the FA Cup.

The club slipped to 17th in the Premier League on Tuesday after losing 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace in what was their ninth fixture without victory.

Championship Fulham had also won their previous four games at Craven Cottage, increasing the potential threat involved for an out-of-form side, but they instead progressed to the competition's next stage with a James Ward-Prowse goal.

Southampton did not begin like a team whose lack of confidence has taken them into contention for relegation, although the same was true of the first half against Palace when they led but still lost.

It was then that Shane Long scored his first goal for 325 days to give them the lead, and in the 10th minute at Fulham with a fine finish he again found the back of the net before being penalised for being narrowly offside.

From Ward-Prowse's right-wing cross he also flashed a header harmlessly wide when home goalkeeper David Button was out of position, before he was again influential when the visitors took the lead.

Ward-Prowse had just bent wide of the left post after being fed by the creative Sofiane Boufal when with his second chance of the 29th minute he convincingly finished.

Steven Davis controlled Maya Yoshida's ball out of defence and - via Boufal, Long and a deflection off Kevin McDonald - the ball ended up at the feet of Ward-Prowse in front of goal, who poked under Button.

Southampton and Boufal, recruited by Pellegrino's predecessor Claude Puel, again threatened when the Moroccan ran from near the corner flag to inside the area and shot low at goal before watching the diving Button tip wide.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was influential during their most recent victory, against Everton in November, and he deserved to double their lead when winning possession, exchanging passes with Long and forcing a save from Button.

Fulham should have scored on the hour. Fine play from Ryan Sessegnon created room to cross, but a reluctance to shoot meant Stefan Johansen and Oliver Norwood instead exchanged passes before Johansen finally shot without conviction and Alex McCarthy saved.

Despite a relative lack of quality, their ability to break with speed and play with a high tempo meant they remained a consistent threat.

From a right-wing corner, Ward-Prowse crossed to Long, whose knock on was headed by Jack Stephens onto the underside of the crossbar.

Fulham then wasted their best chance when, after Norwood crossed into the area from a free-kick and McCarthy spilled the ball and was left on the floor, Denis Odoi connected well with the loose ball but struck it over the crossbar.

Amid growing pressure, Southampton resisted and secured victory, but not before Pellegrino's decision to replace Hojbjerg with Mario Lemina had led to chants of ``you don't know what you're doing'' from the visiting fans.