FIRST blood is all-important at Craven Cottage this afternoon as Gary Megson goes in search of a confidence booster. The Wanderers boss believes that had his side taken one of a few excellent opportunities against Blackburn last weekend, then the outlook around the Reebok over the last few days would have been decidedly cheerier.

Instead, David Dunn made the most of a fine counter attack to beat Jussi Jaaskelainen and the Whites were on their way to a fourth consecutive defeat, which saw them slip into the bottom three.

So as Megson prepares to take his side to Fulham — a team that has won every game in which they have scored first this season — he is placing great emphasis on landing the first blow.

“There are very few games in the Premier League where the team that scores first then goes on to lose,” he said.

“It’s so important — not for any other reason than for what it gives your team, the feel-good factor.

“Against Blackburn, one of our players had a great opportunity from three yards at 0-0 and didn’t take it. We then hit the bar, although it would have been a fortunate goal, 30 seconds before they scored.

“Before that, there was absolutely nothing between the two teams. Arguably, I would have said we were on top, so it shows just how important that first goal really is.”

The numbers add weight to Megson’s view.

Wanderers have scored first in five of their 12 games this season, putting 10 of their 11 points on the board.

Only Manchester United are more efficient than Fulham after getting their nose in front — and Roy Hodgson, pictured, saw his side did just that on Wednesday night when Erik Nevland’s strike put them on the way to a 3-0 win against Blackburn.

The stats suggest the first goal will indeed be vital this afternoon, but Megson has denied that his players’ heads dropped after going behind last weekend.

The Wanderers boss brought his players in to watch the derby defeat on Monday morning, and claims the performance was not as bad as some suggest. He said: “I have read comments but I didn’t think players’ heads went down after the first goal, they went down after the second one and that’s probably understandable.

“There was a period after the half-time break where it was looking like we were going to create that equalising goal. We have sat the players down and watched the first half, and they see that most of the football is in Blackburn’s half, they see the chances we have, and the fact we go 1-0 down. You can’t make it up, that’s why we let them sit down and let them watch it.

“There is bound to be a bit of disappointment when a goal goes in against you.

“But after the first goal went in, we had a glorious chance again from a corner, so I don’t accept that heads went down.”