Fulham’s reward for seeing off Faroe Islands opposition in the first qualifying round of the Europa League is a potentially tougher encounter with Northern Ireland outfit Crusaders.
Despite, only being semi-professional, the Cottagers’ opponents are likely to provide more of a test than NSI Runavik and Martin Jol’s men can expect an intense atmosphere at Crues’ compact Seaview Stadium. Nevertheless, Fulham’s Premiership quality will ultimately tell and they’re 1/100 at Bwin to progress to the next round while Stan James price the Cottagers at 1/4 to come out on top in the first leg in Belfast.
Sportingbet post 14/1 against Stephen Baxter’s side causing a huge upset by pulling off a stunning win on their own patch but even though they will come out all guns blazing, roared on by a capacity crowd, they look up against it.
They will take heart of course, from the fact that on their own patch, NSI Runavik held Fulham to a goalless draw but that was the second leg of the tie and Jol’s charges effectively had it sewn up after a 3-0 triumph at Craven Cottage. On this occasion, Fulham are away from home in the first leg, with more incentive to pick up a positive result and they should chalk up a fairly narrow success.
They’re an enticing 5/1 with Ladbrokes to notch twice without reply in Belfast and 4/5 (Paddy Power) to put in another solid defensive performance to win ‘to nil’. Meanwhile, we’d be keen to side with towering defender Brede Hangeland in the anytime scorer market given the threat the visitors should pose from set-pieces but the high of just 7/1 with Paddy Power is a touch discouraging.
Fulham to beat Crusaders 2-0 – 5/1 (Ladbrokes)