Fulham 4 Notts County 0
Notts County ended their traumatic week by getting swept aside by Fulham in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Craven Cottage.
The League Two club, who have a winding-up order hanging over them from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, was sold for £1 to Ray Trew and then saw Sven-Goran Eriksson resign as director of football.
However, there was no cup fairytale to lift their chaotic season.
Despite playing well in the first half and creating chances, goals from Simon Davies and Bobby Zamora gave Fulham a two-goal lead, then Damien Duff and Stefano Okaka added to the scoreline in the second period.
Caretaker boss Dave Kevan will be encouraged with his side’s performances in patches, particularly as the club have been in turmoil off the pitch and were not expected to trouble a team in the top 10 of the Barclays Premier League.
At the start of the season, County were talking about eventually rubbing shoulders with the likes of Fulham on a regular basis – but the short-term aim now is for the club not to be wound up.
They return to League Two action against Grimsby on Wednesday and restart their hunt for promotion, with the hope clubs from their own division will not create as many chances as Fulham.
As expected, the hosts made most of the early running. Luckily for them Zamora fired just wide after latching on to Chris Baird’s pass and spinning around Jamie Clapham.
Kasper Schmeichel was then called into action when Davies slipped a clever pass through the County defence. David Elm checked back to get rid of John Thompson but then had his finish blocked by the Danish goalkeeper.
The visitors had their first efforts on goal when Craig Westcarr went wide from the edge of the area, then Ben Davies had a long-range effort tipped over.
From the resulting corner, Lee Hughes had sight of goal and time to finish - but his effort was too close to Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Despite encouraging signs, County were behind midway through the first half following a move started by Danny Murphy’s delicate chip to Davies on the edge of the area.
The Wales midfielder had his back to goal but moved just inside the penalty area and fired on the turn, through Thompson’s legs and into Schmeichel’s far corner for his first goal of the campaign.
Fulham came close to doubling the lead just before the half-hour mark when Zamora won the ball in midfield and found Duff, but Schmeichel was equal to the finish after the winger had cut inside.
County themselves were close to levelling just before Zamora made it 2-0, with Westcarr latching on to a flick by Hughes and forcing Schwarzer to save at full stretch.
Zamora made County pay for their miss when he collected Elm’s backheel and lashed past Schmeichel four minutes before the break.
County continued to attack after the break despite the setback of Zamora’s goal just before the interval. Davies kept trying his luck from long distance and two attempts went just wide of Schwarzer’s upright.
There was plenty of effort from the visitors but Fulham showed enough experience to hold them at bay, and they looked threatening on the counter-attack themselves.
Kevan made a change just after the hour mark, bringing on Luke Rodgers for Clapham to add numbers in attack.
Duff’s goal came 16 minutes from the end after Zamora slipped him through down the right flank, the Republic of Ireland winger cutting inside and firing home through Johnnie Jackson’s legs.
Okaka took just three minutes to score after coming off the bench, racing through and firing powerfully past Schmeichel.