Don’t pass up a chance to see Fulham’s passing game



Ryan Sessegnon. Picture: Action Images

Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

Fulham FC’s chief revenue officer Casper Stylsvig has emailed some long-time season ticket holders offering a complimentary pair of match tickets ‘so you can show your friends and family what they’re missing’.

He could not have chosen a better time. Fulham entered the September international break lying second in the Championship table thanks to Tom Cairney’s added time goal against his former club Blackburn.

All things  considered chief coach Slavisa Jokanovic must be well pleased with the events of August.

The Championship team with many newcomers won their first two matches, then drew with Paul Trollope’s Cardiff.

In that game Floyd Ayite unfortunately had to leave the field in the 42nd minute and his replacement – 16-year-old Ryan Sessegnon – came on and scored almost immediately, making club history.

The half-time lead was cancelled out by a long range effort from Joe Ralls, and when Anthony Pilkington  put Cardiff ahead fans wondered whether the home defence was less secure than it first appeared. There were no further City goals however and Kevin McDonald thundered in Fulham’s  late equaliser.

Of that starting eleven only Malone and Woodrow reappeared for the 2nd Round EFL Cup tie with Middlesbrough. More than eight thousand spectators had their first opportunity to see Fulham’s new Spanish signing Jozabed.

Boro’ have only just become a Premier club but they were favoured to win. As early as the eighth minute an unmarked David Nugent put the visitors ahead with neither Scott Malone nor Tim Ream seemingly alert to the danger. Luckily this was not the harbinger of a heavy defeat. Middlesbrough fell back allowing Fulham to play their familiar possession football.

Some of the passing was exquisite but progress was slow. It took over an hour to achieve an equaliser. Malone's shot, deflected past Brad Guzan, should have led to an exciting finale but in the heavy atmosphere both sides seemed to be sleepwalking towards penalties. That nerve-wracking experience was avoided when in the 113th minute Lasse Vigen Christensen thumped home a chance provided once again by Scott Malone.

All of Fulham’s home games so far have been well worth seeing, and September provides four more at the Cottage (including Bristol City twice!).

Supporters, already impressed by the new signings, have yet to meet the most recent acquisitions: Stefan Johansen (Celtic) and Ragnar Sigurdsson, whose goal for Iceland helped defeat England in Euro 2016.

Additionally Lucas Piazon (Chelsea) and Chris Martin (Derby and Scotland) have arrived on loan. Martin scored in Scotland's 5-1 victory over Malta. As the manager acknowledges, his much changed squad will still need Matt Smith and Cauley Woodrow (coincidentally featured on the club calendar's September page).

Even without the free tickets, September could still be a good month for former supporters to return to Craven Cottage.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

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