By Morgan Phillips
For Friday night's televised match at Molineux, Fulham were without their captain, Tom Cairney, who is still recovering from injury.
Quickly Stefan Johansen received a yellow card for a tackle that looked innocuous. Worse was to follow: Ryan Sessegnon blocked a Wolves attack only for Romain Saiss to score from the resulting corner. Outwitting Ryan Fredericks, the Wolves player nodded the ball past the Fulham keeper.
Wolves were taking control, though a free kick from Oliver Norwood (the second player booked) did embarrass goalkeeper John Ruddy and give Kevin McDonald a chance to score against his former team. Not expecting this, McDonald shot wide. Fulham wasted another opportunity before Wolves increased their lead. The referee penalised Sessegnon's tackle on Ivan Cavaleiro with a booking and the free kick led to another headed goal, this time for Leo Bonatini. Fulham had conceded twice in the opening 26 minutes, with both goals coming from dead ball situations.
This was not the usual drab first half. Rui Fonte penetrated the Wolves' defence only to finish weakly, then McDonald made a timely intervention to prevent a third goal. The referee even got around to issuing a yellow card to a Wolves player.
During the interval Kit Symons was asked on TV what could be to the Fulham players to raise their game. Kit must have been tempted to answer: “If I knew that, I would still be manager.”
In fact, the Whites did look better in the second half but they failed to test John Ruddy. A relaxed Wolves squandered several chances including a predictable miskick by an otherwise alert David Button, and the game ended without further score.
One of the few moments for Fulham Fans to cheer was the appearance in the 70th minute of substitute Aboubakar Kamara.
He had been dismissed in the previous match after clashing with Bristol City's Bailey Wright. A three-person FA panel rescinded the red card and punished Wright for 'successful deception of a match official'. The video evidence must have been conclusive, though City were aghast. Without seeing that evidence I can only applaud the principle of rectifying a wrong decision and punishing simulation. Hopefully the latter will become less profitable and less common, particularly if the FA penalises players from the top Premier teams.
In December 2008 when Roy Hodgson was Fulham manager, he publicly castigated his defender John Pantsil for trying to get Stoke's Ricardo Fuller sent off. Pantsil was at fault on that occasion but he was the innocent party the following March when Manchester United visited the Cottage. After Paul Scholes was sent off, United tried to even things by earning Pantsil an unmerited second yellow. The unsuccessful deceiver was Patrice Evra. What's he up to these days?
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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