WITH the magnificent Riverside Stand due to be unveiled a new dawn and a new era is beginning to blossom at Fulham. 

Another chapter in the club’s history is about to commence on their return to the Premier League. But prior to this horizon they entertained Villarreal at Craven Cottage as preparation.

Fulham were extremely unfortunate not to taste victory on Sunday. Their passing was to perfection, fighting every battle. This must have been injected by the manager Marco Silva.

The hosts exploited the channels with Neeskens Kebano whipping in an effort from the right. Bobby De Cordova-Reid however wrong-footed close to the goal-line.  He earlier had an opportunity 20 yards out that went fractionally wide of the post.

Fulham’s Tim Ream in defence made a sloppy mistake with a poor clearance.  He set up Villarreal’s Dani Parejo whose effort from close range sparked celebrations.

Following the interval, the visitors nearly capitalised when Fernando Nino fed Parejo a strike on the outskirts of the box that flew over and beyond. If this had gone in Fulham would have been down and buried.

This gave them momentum to dig deep. They threatened when De Cordova-Reid, in attack, found Aleksander Mitrovic to his right who hit the bar.

Fulham’s goalkeeper Marek Rodak kept their hopes alive, coming off his line to thwart an attempt from Villarreal’s Nicholas Jackson who was charging forward.

De Cordova-Reid was in the thick of the action again.  His angled piece of magic floated over the frame and into the stand.

Fulham finally got their prize with minutes remaining.  Kevin Mbabi crossed the ball in from the right with Mitrovic sliding in to finish the proceedings.  

Marco Silva expressed to the club website after the thriller that, “We finished our pre-season against a Champions League team and we knew the quality they’d have on the ball.  We had some good moments but we didn’t finish the way we should have but that’s part of the process and we’ll keep working on it…..It was a good performance against a good side and we’ve taken lots of positives from it.”