Derby take a 1-0 first leg lead to Craven Cottage as they bid to seal a spot at Wembley for the Championship play-off final. Fulham finished 13 points above the Rams and will be expected to bounce back on Monday. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
"Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic claimed his team “have to be a bit more clinical” following a first leg performance in which he suggested the Cottagers dominated"
Fulham v Derby
Monday 14th May, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports
Fulham looking to fight back
Fulham bossed possession throughout the Championship play-off semi-final first leg but the Cottagers managed just two shots on-target as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at Pride Park, their second successive defeat.
Slavisa Jokanovic's men made a bright start with midfielders Tom Cairney and Stefan Johansen prominent and setting the tone. First-half opportunities were rare until Cameron Jerome headed home a powerful effort following a slick move for the Rams in one of their rare forays into the Fulham third.
Kevin McDonald came closest to a leveller with a sumptuous first-time shot that hit the bar, while Floyd Ayite missed a glorious chance when he volleyed over from Johansen's astute pass. Cairney also went close for the Cottagers, who failed to score in a Championship match for the first time since 16 December.
Derby pinch first leg lead
Cameron Jerome scored his fifth goal in four games as Derby gained the advantage in an intriguing semi-final first leg against Fulham. The in-form forward powered home a delightful 34th minute header from Craig Forsyth's beauty of a cross to round off a wonderful team move for the decisive goal.
It was County's sole on-target effort as the hosts enjoyed just 26% of the ball and three shots across the 90 minutes. Nevertheless, the pace of winger Tom Lawrence, the power of striker Jerome and the movement of recalled 21-goal top-scorer Matej Vydra gave Derby a great outlet when pressure was relieved.
Manager Gary Rowett opted to continue with his new-look 3-4-2-1 system on Friday night and minimal changes are expected to the side in the capital. Defender Marcus Olsson has been ruled out until 2019 with a knee injury so Andreas Weimann should continue in the left wing-back role.
Cottagers to make home advantage count
Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic claimed his team "have to be a bit more clinical" following a first leg performance in which he suggested the Cottagers dominated. The home side will at least be encouraged by previous Championship play-off trends that favour third-place teams in the second leg.
Third-place finishers boast an outstanding W16-D4-L3 record in the second semi-final since 1994/95 and with Fulham also pocketing W12-D2-L0 in their past 14 fixtures at Craven Cottage, it's easy to understand why the hosts are rated such strong [1.69] favourites.
Derby [5.60] have won just once in their last nine games as guests but a draw [3.80] would be enough to earn a place at Wembley and the Rams have avoided defeat at seven of the top-nine, only losing out away at title winners Wolves.
Trends point to high-scoring tie
If play-off semi-final first legs are renowned for being tight and cagey affairs, the opposite could be said of the return encounters. Goal averages increase from 2.10 to 2.60 with Over 2.5 Goals being surpassed in half of those showdowns since the system was introduced in 1988/89.
Over the past 10 seasons, the higher-ranked play-off side in the Championship has netted at least three times on seven occasions during the second leg, while since 1998/99, 13 of the 19 second-legs at this level have featured Over 2.5 Goals with 10 seeing at least four strikes.
With Over 2.5 Goals trading around the [1.88] mark, backing a goal-heavy game appeals on Monday night.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 172.00 pts
Returned: 181.22 pts
P/L: +6.22 pts
Back Fulham to win @ [1.69] in Fulham v Derby
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [1.88] in Fulham v Derby