Leeds United heading back to scene of memorable recent victories that bucked London trend
Leeds United now have happy recent memories of Fulham away.
Having gone 16 games without a victory in the capital, United finally ended their London curse with a 2-1 triumph at Craven Cottage last March.
Six months later, the Whites will be back at the same venue on Tuesday evening for their third round EFL Cup clash.
After last season’s relegation, the Cottagers are now a Championship outfit and the two clubs had ten meetings in the second tier between 2014 and 2020.
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Five clashes at Craven Cottage produced two home wins and two draws but also a memorable 3-0 success for Neil Redfearn’s Whites back in March 2015 in which Sam Byram was the star of the show.
Fulham had been relegated the previous season after finishing second bottom in the Premier League whereas United were in their fifth consecutive season in the country’s second tier.
United had finished the 2013-14 campaign in 15th place as part of a season which saw a change in ownership and the start of the Massimo Cellino era.
The Whites finished the season with Brian McDermott in charge but the baton was soon passed to Dave Hockaday and then Darko Milanic as Cellino ‘Il mangia-allenatori’ - the manager eater - quickly began hiring and firing.
But by March 2015 Leeds were in a relative period of stability under caretaker boss Neil Redfearn whose side made it three wins from their last four games and seven victories from their last 12 fixtures with a 3-0 romp at Fulham.
Now under the care of Kit Symons, the Cottagers were on a desperate run and lined up sat fifth bottom following just one win in their last ten games, six of which had ended in defeat.
Nevertheless, Fulham went close to opening the scoring against the 14th-placed Whites through a corner which Marco Silvestri was forced to tip away from under his crossbar.
Leeds eventually cleared but only to Kostas Stafylidis who unleashed a rocket of a half volley that was flying into the bottom right corner until Silvestri tipped the ball wide.
Redfearn admitted after the game that Fulham were the better side in the first half and that he gave his men a rollicking at half-time.
But United went into the interval with a 1-0 lead after bagged the game’s first goal five minutes before the interval.
The breakthrough arrived after stellar work from Gaetano Berardi who won the ball in the left hand corner and delivered a peach of a cross that was met by a towering header from Sam Byram to head home into the opposite corner.
The Whites took a one goal advantage into the interval and then doubled their lead with another header just three minutes after the break.
This time Alex Mowatt provided the delivery with an inviting corner that was met by Sol Bamba at the back post.
The defender slammed home a header to score what was his first goal for the club and immediately headed to celebrate in front of 4,000 delighted Whites fans behind the goal who were loving their evening at Craven Cottage.
Leeds were heading for a victory and just four minutes later Fulham’s night took another turn for the worse as Stafylidis was sent off following two quickfire bookings.
The Whites were strolling to victory in the capital and Neil Redfearn’s side bagged a third goal two minutes from time after more excellent play from Byram.
The right back cut in from the right flank and skinned Tim Hoogland before firing in a cross that was pushed away by ‘keeper Marcus Bettinelli but only to Mirco Antenucci who fired a volley into the ground that then looped into the left corner of the net.
Leeds were flying, but the Whites then only bagged one more victory from their final eight games, five of which ended in defeat, and it was once again back to that familiar finishing position of 15th place.
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Thank you Laura Collins