By Morgan Phillips
Watching the Fulham-Sheffield Wednesday match we were surprised to hear a recorded announcement reminding us that Craven Cottage was an all-seater stadium. Predictably it had no effect on the hundreds who had elected to stand. It was reminiscent of a similar broadcast a few months ago, urging people to take their seats as the match was about to start. This may work in the theatre or the concert hall, but football fans are not so easily corralled.
Similarly I suppose it would be pointless to relay a message to Fulham players that they would have more chance of winning if they kept the ball in their opponents’ half. Wednesday took an early lead with one of the match’s few moments of quality and, apart from a couple of attacking moves by Johansen, Fulham spent the remainder of the first 45 minutes tapping the ball around in their own half.
The second period produced more determination from the home side, Sone Aluko almost achieving an early equaliser, but the Wednesday keeper Westwood was still underemployed. However, the introduction of Ayite followed by Parker and Odoi proved effective. It was a shame that Scott Parker had to perform an immediate and grotesque foul. He seemed to share the Danny Murphy theory that the skipper of an underperforming side had a duty to get a yellow card in order to galvanise his colleagues. Wednesday just saw it as a further opportunity for time-wasting.
The visitors reached the 90th minute with their lead intact, only for Tom Cairney to spoil their afternoon. Receiving a throw on from Dennis Odoi, Cairney with a measured cross found Scott Malone unmarked on the left wing. The full back’s glorious shot sent the Fulham fans into ecstasy and may at last have caused the Wednesday supporters to sit down. Certainly they mourned the loss of two points while we saw the result as a point gained.
Jokanovic promoted Ayite and Odoi to the starting line-up against Brighton, and the visitors dominated the first half, with Floyd Ayite looking particularly sharp. Visiting fans could not help being amused by the manner of Fulham’s goal. An accurate but rather tame effort by Kevin McDonald just managed to cross the line after a collision between two ex-Fulham players Stockdale and Sidwell. The smiles vanished in the second half when Brighton equalised, after which Glenn Murray, completely unmarked, scored a simple winner.
In both matches Fulham played some good football but lapses of concentration and the lack of a regular goal-scorer have undermined the performances.
Three years after the change of ownership Fulham supporters still sing in praise of Mohammed Al Fayed. They reserve judgment on Shahid Khan, whose cohorts have made errors, particularly in the appointment and dismissal of managers. But there are promising signs. The statue honouring George Cohen shows an awareness of the club’s heritage and the impressive enhancement of Motspur Park seems to confirm Chief Executive Alistair Mackintosh’s declaration of Mr Khan’s ‘commitment to the past, the present and the future’.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.