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Fulham 0-2 Middlesbrough: Whites mini revival comes to a grinding halt as Stearman sees red

Back down the snake as Whites suffer second dismissal on the trot to a rampant Boro who underlined their promotion credentials at the Cottage

Dugout men: Slavisa Jokanovic (L) and Aitor Karanka

Fulham’s fluctuating form continued with defeat to high-flying Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

An early Albert Adomah header unsettled the Whites before Grant Leadbitter’s penalty put the visitors firmly in control.

Michael Madl and Moussa Dembele both came close to hauling Fulham back into the game before the break, but the result was largely unsurprising despite the Whites’ mini-revival in fortune saw only one defeat from their previous five games.

Slavisa Jokanovic started with Ryan Tunnicliffe in place of Dembele sacrificing a forward for the extra midfielder.

But the tactical change didn’t reap dividends, with Boro striking early on through Adomah.

Former England international Stewart Downing swung a cross to the far post from the left, and the obliging Reds winger headed home.

The hosts were subdued by the early strike, though nearly found themselves level after a Ross McCormack free-kick was just about scrambled clear.

Red card: Richard Stearman

But Boro hit back just minutes later, when Chris Baird - making his second consecutive start - clumsily brought down David Nugent.

And Boro captain Grant Leadbitter dispatched the penalty in cool fashion, sending Andrew Lonergan the wrong way.

Fulham struggled to get a foothold in the half, with Boro coming close through Southampton loanee Gaston Ramirez, before the same man prevented the Whites going a third goal behind.

But they nearly found a route into the match when substitute Dembele - on for the injured Ryan Fredericks - had a fine overhead kick finger-tipped over the bar by Dimi Konstantopoulos.

And Michael Madl seemed destined to strike for the hosts when his unmarked header beat the Boro keeper, only for a last-ditch Ritchie De Laet clearance.

Downing came closest to adding a third in the second half only to be denied by both Scott Parker and then Lonergan.

Dembele and Jamie O’Hara both came close for the hosts, but ultimately the Cottagers couldn’t muster a fightback.

Worse still, on his comeback Richard Stearman was dismissed in the final few minutes when deemed to be the last man as he took out Jordan Rhodes.

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