Salisbury JournalBlades heap more misery on Fulham (From Salisbury Journal)

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Blades heap more misery on Fulham

Salisbury Journal: Shaun Miller, left, and Ryan Flynn celebrate Sheffield United's victory at Craven Cottage Shaun Miller, left, and Ryan Flynn celebrate Sheffield United's victory at Craven Cottage

Fulham's miserable season reached a new low as they suffered an embarrassing last-minute FA Cup exit at home to embattled League One side Sheffield United.

Bottom of the Premier League and four points adrift of safety after a 3-0 home defeat to Southampton, Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen spoke in the programme of using the fourth-round replay as a chance to "garner some confidence".

If all else failed, the Fulham head coach asked for "togetherness and desire" - something lacking for the most part as Nigel Clough's visitors forgot their own relegation worries to reach the fifth round with a 1-0 extra-time victory.

Substitute Shaun Miller stooped to score the last-gasp winner for a side sitting 23rd in League One, setting up a home clash with the winners of the replay between Preston and Nottingham Forest.

This was by no means as impressive as the third-round win at Aston Villa, but one which the vocal Blades support will hope can spur them onto better things in the league.

The first half was a turgid affair in which few chances were created, with the main talking point referee Neil Swarbrick's decision not to send off Bob Harris despite a late tackle on Josh Passley shortly after being booked for a foul on the same player.

Harris, whose loan move from Blackpool was made permanent on transfer deadline day, was back at the heart of things when play resumed for the second half, curling a free-kick wide before hitting a powerful effort at David Stockdale.

The natives were getting restless as Fulham's disjointed performance continued, rounding on Hugo Rodallega when the ineffective striker was taken off with 30 minutes remaining.

The Colombia international appeared to take the reception personally as he sat head in hands on the bench - a stance many inside Craven Cottage copied when the match went into extra-time.

John Brayford and Pajtim Kasami came close as play swung from end to end, with the match decided in the 120th minute as Miller glanced home Harry Maguire's header back across goal in front of the away fans.

It was an exciting end to a dreadful match, which few could have predicted when United forward Jamie Murphy came close from the edge of the box just 89 seconds in.

That, though, was one of few noteworthy chances in an insipid first half, with neither side looking particularly happy to be out there after drawing 1-1 last month.

Maguire and Kasami saw headers go harmlessly wide midway through the first half, before Muamer Tankovic lashed over minutes after testing Mark Howard from long range.

Clint Dempsey flashed over wildly before then being involved in a neat one-two with Rodallega, whose woeful first touch saw the move end abruptly.

Brayford and Murphy had efforts when United returned to the attack, with the third-tier side lucky not to be reduced to 10 men as half-time approached. Having been booked two minutes earlier for a challenge on Passley, Harris made another late challenge on the right-back but referee Swarbrick chose not to hand out another yellow.

The United defender attempted to rub Fulham's nose in it when play resumed for the second half, coming close on two occasions.

First Harris swung a free-kick just off target, before testing Stockdale with a powerful strike from the edge of the box soon after.

Meulensteen brought on Damien Duff and Ashkan Dejagah for Alex Kacaniklic and Rodallega in a bid to add a different attacking dimension with 30 minutes remaining.

The Colombian looked distraught on the Fulham bench after being taken off, with Brede Hangeland blocking a fierce Stefan Scougall effort as matters on the pitch continued.

Howard had to react quickly to push away a deflected Duff cross as Fulham pushed for a winner, before Tankovic showed good feet to wriggle free and strike wide.

Stockdale flapped at a Brayford cross and Kasami sent an impressive effort just over as play swung from end to end, while substitute Jose Baxter was proving a nuisance for the Fulham backline.

Dempsey saw an acrobatic effort blocked and penalty appeals waved away as the Whites continued to press, although they were unable to prevent the match going to extra-time.

Unsurprisingly that too did little to warm the spirits of the 10,139 fans on a wet and windy night at Craven Cottage.

In the first period, Brayford collected the ball just inside the Fulham half and burst forward at speed, cutting in between two men and forcing Stockdale into a fine save low to his right.

Kasami twice came close in the second half of extra-time, fizzing just wide before testing Howard, and, just as it looked like penalties, United grabbed victory.

Baxter sent in a corner from the right, which was headed back across by Maguire and glanced home by substitute Miller, on in the 97th minute for the injured Scougall, in the last minute of extra-time.

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