Championship promotion favourites Fulham demonstrated plenty of Premiership quality to comfortably overcome Wigan Athletic 2-0 at Craven Cottage.
The hosts had enjoyed 62 per cent possession in the first half and would’ve been in front if it had not been for Latics’ keeper David Marshall who made two excellent saves to deny Aleksander Mitrovic and Antony Knockaert.
But Fulham went ahead early in the second half from Joe Bryan’s strike on the rebound from inside the area.
Latics did rally and briefly threatened through a couple Lee Evans strikes from distance but the Cottagers sealed all three points with Tom Cairney’s curled finish on 83 minutes.
Fulham move up to seventh in the Championship table while Latics remain in 19th spot prior to Saturday’s fixtures.
Paul Cook made one change to the starting line up that had defeated Charlton with Lee Evans replacing Gavin Massey.
Latics started strongly with Nathan Byrne getting forward to provide a dangerous cross for Kieffer Moore but the cross was cut out by keeper Marcus Bettinelli.
But the hosts soon started to assert themselves with Aflie Mawson going close following a corner.
Despite the combative efforts of captain Samy Morsy and Joe Williams Fulham started to dictate the play and control possession.
Latics main strategy was reverting to the unsuccessful long ball tactics of early season with Marshall’s goalkicks directed towards Moore usually resulting in the loss of possession.
Before the interval Marshall came to Latics’ rescue first denying Mitrovic’s flick and then making an instinctive save from Knockaert.
But within two minutes of the restart Fulham were ahead after Bryan’s initial effort was blocked the left back was able to curl home the rebound.
Latics best effort came from Evans strike from 25 yards on 52 minutes which narrowly cleared the top corner.
Knockaert forced another good save from Marshall as Fulham continued to create chances.
Antonee Robinson was one of the few stand out performers for Latics against quality opposition, breaking forward and creating opportunities for his team mates.
But as Latics pressed for an unlikely equaliser Evans misplaced pass didn’t find Robinson in a forward position and the hosts broke quickly with Cairney finishing with some aplomb from outside the area.
Overall the gulf in quality was evident with Fulham likely to be challenging at the top of the Championship and Latics likely to be at the other end of the table.
Latics dreadful away form continues and they have now won only once in their last 26 away games under manager Cook.