By Mo Khan
Arsenal suffered their second successive derby defeat as they lost 1-0 to Fulham at Underhill on Monday night.
Mark Pembridge scored the only goal of the game from 25 yards three minutes before half-time as Arsenal struggled to penetrate the visitors' rearguard without their prolific leading goalscorer, Arturo Lupoli.
Meanwhile, Tottenham, who edged the north London derby at this ground last week, moved 10 points clear of the Gunners at the top of Reserve League South with a 1-0 win over West Ham.
Neil Banfield made four changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Spurs; Vito Mannone replaced Manuel Almunia in goal and Armand Traore came in for Ashley Cole at left-back. Mark Randall was given a rare start in a three-man central midfield in place of the injured Lupoli and Sebastian Larsson returned to midfield in place of Alexandre Song.
The gathered home crowd were vociferous in their support of their team at the bitterly cold home of Barnet FC but, in the end, they had little to be vocal about.
Fulham fielded a starting line-up boasting the experience of former Everton midfielder Pembridge and former Monaco men Phillippe Christanval and Sylvain Legwinski in a competitive encounter full of hard, but fair, challenges.
Legwinski had the first real effort on goal after five minutes, guiding a right-foot volley from the right-hand edge of the penalty area straight at the impressive Mannone.
Just before the quarter-hour mark, Arsenal produced their best move of the game. Their elegant centre-back Matthew Connolly strode forward from defence, exchanged passes with Randall and found Nicklas Bendtner on the right. The former Copenhagen striker's shot at goal looked to heading in but Mark Davidson tipped the effort superbly onto the crossbar and away for a corner. Larsson's delivery from the left was only headed clear as far as Randall whose first-time volley flew marginally over.
The Cottagers went straight down the other end but Saheed Sankoh failed to trouble Mannone with a tame effort from just inside the area. Moments later, Mannone pulled off a stunning block at the feet of Legwinski from close-range.
The Italian was called into action again four minutes before the break as he raced out to block Robert Milsom's shot. However there was nothing the former Atalanta stopper could do two minutes later as Fulham broke the deadlock.
Legwinski won the ball from Fabrice Muamba in midfield and squared it to Pembridge who struck an arrow-like first-time effort past a motionless Mannone. It was slightly harsh on the Italian given his heroics up to that point.
The second half was a somewhat quieter affair as both sides made changes.
Arsenal introduced Mark Elston and Shane Tracy as they looked for an equaliser. Larsson tested Davidson with a free-kick and the tireless Antony Stokes did his best to trouble the Fulham defence with a series of twists and turns out on the left.
With full-time looming, Elston won a corner on the right and as Larsson swung it in, Connolly rose above his marker but could only head wide. That was the last chance for Banfield's boys on a luckless evening.
- Simpson 65
- Randall 75
- Tracy 75
- Elston 65