Fulham's bad tourists head north with meagre support

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The Independent Football

It is a damning indictment of the number of fans Fulham take on their travels that when manager Roy Hodgson wished to honour the hardy souls who braved the arduous journey up to Stoke during the recent cold snap, he was able to write a personally thank-you letter to each and every one.

The thanks were a kindly gesture by the club but also shine a light on Fulham's problems away from Craven Cottage. All the letters were signed by Hodgson and contained the line: "I hope your particular experience was not too grim." He was referring to the dreadful weather but he could just as well have been writing about Fulham's away form, with his team going three behind before rallying to 3-2 at Stoke.

In recent seasons they have become the Premier League's perennial worst travellers, having won just nine times on the road out of 87 games in the last four and a half seasons. The results cannot be unrelated to their lack of travelling support.

There were just 170 Fulham die-hards at Stoke on 5 January, and 296 for the 2-0 defeat at Blackburn last weekend. The club hope there will be a few more at Accrington Stanley's Crown Ground for today's FA Cup fourth-round tie, but those that make the trip to Lancashire will do so more in hope than expectation.

What's more, Fulham have a history of losing to lower league opposition in recent years, having gone out to Bristol Rovers, Leyton Orient and Wycombe in the cups since 2006. Hodgson warned his side of the potential for a giant-killing and will not be guilty of complacency.

He said: "For Accrington Stanley, the FA Cup is the moment of glory. They are sitting pretty in League Two, but for glory they need to knock a Premier League team out of the FA Cup. We are the potential mugs, and we have got to make certain we are not mugged up there."

Hodgson admitted the club's away form was a worry. He said: "It is never easy to win away from home. I'm not concerned about the way we are playing. I'm concerned that we are not winning. But if we keep on playing like we are then we will win some, that's for sure. We are working on it but it does boil down to the fact that decisions do go your way when you are at home."

The Fulham manager admitted the only time he has been to Accrington before was to play in a charity snooker event with John Virgo to raise money for the club in 1997, when Hodgson was at Blackburn. "It was easy," he said. "Virgo put the balls in all sorts of positions and told us what to do and when you hit it, some miraculous things happened and the balls all flew into the pockets." Things are unlikely to be so straightforward for him today.

Premier League apathy: Third-round crowds

*Premier League clubs struggled to attract supporters for their FA Cup third-round matches earlier this month. Wigan were the worst example with just 5,335 turning out for their 4-1 win over Hull City, 71 per cent less than their League average.

*Portsmouth (11,214), Bolton (11,193), Stoke City (15,586) and Sunderland (25,190) also had attendances that fell well short of their League crowds.