Fulham's home match template seems established

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Fulham FC squad photo bearing the Adidas logo


Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

I lamented recently the preponderance of gambling and gaming companies among Fulham FC's sponsors. So It was a pleasure to receive the above team photo marking the club's new association with Adidas. Apparently that company supplied a similar service in 1977 and 1997.

The 1977-78 season saw the arrival of Gordon Davies (how we need a striker like him) and in 1997-97 Keegan and Wilkins took us to the play-offs, setting a tradition of drawing at home and losing away.

The photo has Tom Cairney at the centre, and fortunately he had recovered from injury in time for Saturday’s home match against Preston. Reluctant to overextend him, Slavisa Jokanovic did not introduce Cairney until after the interval, by which time Fulham were suffering a two goal deficit.

Until then the team had displayed only one real example of its potential. Tim Ream sent Ryan Sessegnon on an electrifying run down the touchline. His centre found Oliver Norwood, whose glorious shot was smartly saved by Chris Maxwell. Floyd Ayite failed to convert the rebound.

Otherwise Preston looked superior, particularly on the wings. Immediately after Norwood’s effort, Sean Maguire was given time and space to create a goal for Jordan Hugill, and Preston went further ahead when Tom Barkhuizen's shot was deflected past Button by Maguire.

The template for Fulham’s home matches this season seems established: a scrappy first-half followed by a frenetic second with a decisive goal in the closing moments.

Cairney’s task was obvious and his presence certainly improved Fulham’s performance. That is no reflection on the acting captain Kevin McDonald, a stalwart both in defence and attack. Kevin came close to scoring when he hit the upright but Preston held out until the 74th minute when Rui Fonte was fouled in the area. Fortunately it was Oliver Norwood who took the penalty.

Fulham had still to save a point. Arguably they did not deserve to do so but blatant time-wasting forfeited any sympathy for the visitors. Five additional minutes were needed, and in the last of these the visiting keeper was tempted off his line by Tim Ream's swirling centre.

Maxwell's uncharacteristic fumble allowed Denis Odoi a difficult chance, which he did not waste. He then executed his amazing acrobatics before being mobbed by his team-mates. Fittingly the vital pass had come from Tim Ream, whose strength in defence had kept Fulham in the match.

Supporters departed in high sprits though they must be wondering why the team has such difficulty winning at home.

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

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