CHERRIES loanee Harry Arter’s superb strike kept alive Fulham’s hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship as they won 1-0 against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

A game of few clear-cut chances was settled in first-half injury time by Arter’s left-foot effort from just outside the penalty area which flew into the top corner.

It gave Scott Parker’s side a third straight victory.

A bright start to the game saw both sides exert some early pressure with a couple of corners apiece.

The first real chance came after 17 minutes after a mistake by Tim Ream, who was captaining Fulham, mid-way inside his own half.

Ream’s error allowed former Cherries striker Lewis Grabban a run towards the penalty area with only Michael Hector between himself and goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

But Hector stood his ground as Grabban attempted to barge past him and the Forest striker’s shot was easily fielded by Rodak.

Fulham threatened for the first time as the half-hour mark approached. A driving run from Bobby Decordova-Reid saw him slalom past a sliding Ben Watson challenge before unleashing a swerving effort from 25 yards that dipped just over the crossbar.

Grabban had another chance at the end of the first half following some good work down the right by Matty Cash, but once again he was unable to make the desired contact and this time the ball dribbled harmlessly wide.

Arter had no such problems finding a clean strike moments later.

The midfielder attempted a pass just outside the box but the ball deflected back to him off Watson.

Arter then decided to shoot, sending a left-foot effort arrowing into the top corner of the net.

Forest pushed for an equaliser in the second period but it was not forthcoming and Fulham defending manfully for what could prove to be a crucial victory.

It is understood Fulham have an obligation to buy Sidcup-born Arter, depending on certain performance-based criteria.

This is believed to include whether or not the west London side seal promotion.