Johnson strikes late to give Fulham victory

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Fulham 2

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Fulham 2

Two goals from former Everton striker Andy Johnson earned Fulham a first away win of the season and a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Johnson put the Premier League side ahead after only 11 minutes at Hillsborough and struck in equally clinical fashion three minutes from the end of normal time to stretch their unbeaten run to 10 matches.

Plucky Sheffield Wednesday, who were without 10 players through injury, had their moments in an entertaining third-round tie and drew level thanks to a wonder goal from defender Tommy Spurr.

But they faded badly in the final quarter and have now not won in five games and have not gone past the third round of the cup for eight years.

The Championship club were the first to threaten, thanks to a penetrating run from loan midfielder Lewis Buxton, whose cross found the recalled Jermaine Johnson but his shot struck the legs of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and rebounded to safety.

A fine run from right winger Wade Small then forced Paul Konchesky to concede the first corner as Wednesday continued to make all the running in a lively opening and the breakthrough came strictly against the run of play.

It took the capital club 11 minutes to earn their first corner and, although the danger was initially cleared, Fulham captain Danny Murphy split the home defence with a delightful through-ball for Johnson to clinically slot home past keeper Lee Grant.

Grant then had to react quickly to deny debutant Julian Gray as Fulham began to impose their authority on the game.

The Owls were far from outclassed, however, and drew level on 20 minutes when a snap shot from 35 yards by left-back Spurr which screamed past the outstretched hand of Schwarzer into the corner of the net.

Fulham looked the more dangerous side, with Dickson Etuhu’s crisp shot thundering against the bar while Gray curled the ball just inches over the crossbar.

It was an open game, though, and Wednesday missed a glorious opportunity to go in front on 32 minutes when the lively Small threaded a pass through to the ever-willing Boden and he sent over a pinpoint cross for Johnson, whose header sailed a foot over the bar.

Francis Jeffers then carved out another clear-cut opportunity for Johnson, whose right-footed shot disappointingly failed to test Schwarzer, who got down to save from Jeffers just before the break.

The end-to-end action continued in the second half and Murphy had to work over time at the heart of the Fulham defence to keep the plucky Yorkshiremen at bay.

The Cottagers wasted a good chance after Mark Beevers was pulled up for a push on Bobby Zamora, with Murphy sending the free-kick harmlessly wide, while Grant saved at the feet of Clint Dempsey.

Wednesday, who had James O’Connor booked for a foul on Murphy, continued to press, however, and Spurr had a chance to emulate his earlier feat when Gray’s foul on Small earned the home side a free-kick but Johnson moved quickly to block his shot.

There were increasing signs that both sides were prepared to settle for a draw, although Fulham had the better chances in the final quarter.

Dempsey forced two saves from Grant while Erik Nevland, a second-half substitute for Zamora, was forced to admonish himself after ballooning a shot high over the bar.

Nevland then squandered another chance after sterling work from Johnson and, as Fulham pressed for the winner, Dempsey’s header aimed for the left-hand corner of the net was palmed away by the busy Grant.

The breakthrough finally came courtesy of Nevland’s cross, which was struck home by Johnson with his second clinical finish of the match.

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