FA Cup: Fulham face fixture woe

Julian Harris
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FULHAM boss Rene Meulensteen has lashed out at a congested fixture list that he blames for forcing him to change the entire starting XI for yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United.

The Cottagers needed a 75th-minute equaliser by Hugo Rodallega to stay in the FA Cup, after Chris Porter opened the scoring. Fulham could face a fifth-round tie against either Nottingham Forest or Preston North End if they overcome United in a replay.

Yesterday’s match was the first of two Fulham games in three days, as Meulensteen’s men travel to Swansea tomorrow for a key relegation battle.

“If one person respects the FA Cup it’s me, and I’d love to stay in it – but we play Sunday at 1pm for television and then go to Swansea on Tuesday,” Meulensteen complained. “I think every person with a bit of common sense can understand [my selection].”

After facing Swansea, Fulham then have four games within the first two weeks of February – including a replay against United.

Meulensteen added: “It’s like an extended Christmas period for us. I haven’t even taken my tree down yet.”

His team were a goal down after little more than half an hour yesterday as Harry Maguire burst into the box and his low cross was turned in by Porter.

Yet United captain Michael Doyle saw red soon after half-time, for kicking out at Dutch youngster Chris David.

And with a quarter of an hour to go a neat passing move around the edge of the box was finished by Rodallega who drove the ball in low and hard from 20 yards to earn a replay.