A tap-in for Michael Obafemi settled this contest as Fulham were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Southampton in a tepid 1-0 affair at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night.
Both sides made multiple changes to their starting XIs from their respective weekend matches, nine for Fulham and five for Southampton, and it showed in a lacklustre first-half, with Bobby Decordova-Reid’s bar-rattling free-kick the closest either side came to a goal.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side emerged for the second period with much more intent, however, and in the 57th minute they were rewarded when Nathan Redmond’s inch perfect pass was tapped in by Obafemi.
Chances for Redmond and substitute Danny Ings came and went and, with Fulham completely devoid of any creativity, the Premier League side progressed with ease.
With Anthony Knockaert, Aleksandr Mitrovic and Ivan Cavaleiro all rested, Aboubakar Kamara was one of three fresh attackers given a run-out along with Bobby Decordova-Reid and Luca De La Torre, and he looked bright early on, setting up an early chance for Matt O’Reilly.
But it was Reid who came considerably closest to opening the scoring in the first-half. After Kamara beat Saints right-back Kevin Danso down the left-hand side, only to be fouled by the youngster, the resulting free-kick was smacked against the underside of the bar by the on-loan Cardiff City man.
However, none of the three will have done alot in their bids to displace any of the dynamic starting trio, in what was an underwhelming 90 minutes on the attacking front.
Whilst Josh Onomah looked keen to impress throughout the first-half, there was always a sense that Parker’s insistence on playing out from the back could sting the home-side, with a pace-filled Southampton front-pairing of Redmond and Obafemi both causing Kevin McDonald and Maxime Le Marchand plenty of problems.
And so it proved early in the second-half. With McDonald and Le Marchand happy to pass between eachother, Obafemi hounded them, and then Marek Rodak, down, eventually forcing an error which fell the way of Oriol Romeu.
But despite being given yards of space, he could only force a comfortable save from the deputising Fulham goalkeeper.
Parker’s side would not keep them at bay for long, however. Three minutes before the hour, Redmond found space down the left-hand side.
Cutting inside, he threaded a perfectly weighted pass across the six-yard box where Obafemi waited to gratefully tap home.
The response from Fulham made it clear where their priorities lay this season, with promotion very-much the aim still. No chances of note were created by the much-changed line-up with the visitors taking on the responsibility of trying to entertain.
It was Ings, who had replaced the injured Obafemi on the 67th minute, who found himself through on goal on more than one occasion. But on each he failed to muster any sort of venom in his effort
With youngsters Tyrese Francois, Ben Davis and Martell Taylor-Crossdale all on the fied by the end of play, the home side’s flow, or what there was of it, was interrupted further.
And that was how it was to finish. The away fans left as jubilant as you can after winning a Carabao Cup second-round game whilst the home faithful left frustrated with an attack seriously lacking in creativity.