The Reds were beaten this afternoon at Craven Cottage following a crucial refereeing decision.
There was just one change to Paul Heckingbottom’s starting XI with Ryan Williams recalled as the Reds lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
It was all Fulham in the opening stages and on five minutes a shot from 20-yards by Tom Cairney forced Adam Davies into a simple save. But a minute later and Scott Malone’s ball in behind the Reds defence saw Chris Martin through on goal but his early shot was well saved by Davies low-down.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Ryan Williams slipped Marley Watkins in sublimely but the referee’s assistant flagged as the Reds forward was about to shoot. It looked questionable.
This was followed by quite a scrappy and dull spell.
On 25 minutes Adam Hammill tried his luck from 25-yards out but his powerful left-footed effort went straight down the ‘keepers throat.
The Reds were beginning to grow into the match by this stage and were playing some lovely one-touch football in and around the hosts’ penalty area, but the chances weren’t forthcoming.
Lucas Piazon flashed an effort wide from the edge of the box with half an hour on the clock.
It was nearly vintage Adam Hammill on 37 minutes when he ghosted past opponents, as he embarked upon a solo-run centrally, before unleashing an effort from 20-yards out that slammed against the Fulham crossbar.
Moments later and Tom Bradshaw saw his flicked header from Conor Hourihane’s in-swinging corner fall just wide of the post.
The Reds were well on top by now after weathering the early storm.
But then out of nowhere, in added time, referee Andy Davies spotted an infringement inside the Reds box following a corner and awarded Fulham a penalty. Angus MacDonald was adjudged to have fouled Kevin McDonald. Everyone was stunned. Except Martin who stroked home the penalty, sending Davies the wrong way.
HALF TIME: Fulham 1-0 Barnsley
The second-half saw the home side start well in control once again, with Martin flicking a volley just wide of Davies’ near-post.
Aidy White went into the book on 52 minutes for a slide-tackle on Sone Aluko who’d tormented the Reds full-back all afternoon down the Fulham right.
With 55 minutes gone the hosts doubled their lead. A wonderful ball from Martin picked out the advancing Malone and his controlled volley on the run flew past Davies and into the bottom corner. A great strike for 2-0.
It was wave after wave of Fulham attacks but the Reds somehow escaped before a 70th minute treble substitution from Hecky, as he replaced Bradshaw, Hammill and Williams with Moncur, Armstrong and Kent.
A great one-handed save from Davies denied the impressive Martin a third Fulham goal before Watkins followed White into referee Davies’ notebook.
Davies was yet again called into action as he pushed over a vicious Cairney drive on 81 minutes.
From that break, Watkins slipped it through for Armstrong who burst into the area only to be bundled over by Tomas Kalas. Considering the first-half penalty award, you’d have perhaps imagined a second spot kick. But it was waved away by Mr Davies.
Fulham saw out the game for the last 10 minutes or so with nothing of note created by either side, and the Reds tasted defeat for the first time in 2017.
FULL-TIME: Fulham 2-0 Barnsley
Davies; Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, White; Hammill (Kent ’70), Scowen, Hourihane, Watkins; Williams (Moncur ’70); Bradshaw (Armstrong ’70).
Subs not used: Townsend, Evans, Jackson, Payne.
Attendance: 18,010 (1,830 Reds). Thank you for your outstanding support!