By Morgan Phillips
Last Saturday morning I watched a bus packed with Fulham supporters heading north on Fulham Palace Road and I mentally saluted those on board.
The team’s away record this season threatens to be the worst in the entirety of English professional football, and any hopes that the new manager would bring instant improvement have been quickly dispelled.
For the visit to Leicester, Scott Parker retained the line-up that had competed well against Chelsea but the team showed no improvement on previous away form.
Almost from the start Fulham were dominated by the home side (who also had a new manager). Sergio Rico and Havard Nordtveld frustrated Leicester for the first 20 minutes then Calum Chambers failed to control a misjudged pass from Nordtvelt and Wilfred Ndidi disposed him, sending Jamie Vardy clear.
Commendably unselfish, Vardy allowed Youri Tielmans the final touch that put Leicester ahead.
Parker withdrew Ryan Sessegnon at half-time and sent on Floyd Ayite, who had impressed in the Chelsea match.
Six minutes into the second period Nordtveld gave Ayite the opportunity to show his dexterity, and the Togolese bamboozled Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire before finding the net.
He was helped by a deflection, so the Sunday Times reported that the ball ‘trickled apologetically over the line’. I doubt if Ayite or anyone else in the Fulham camp felt the need to apologise.
This goal inspired both the team and the fans to believe that a draw or even an away win was within reach.
Although Joe Bryan's centre gave Aleks Mitrovic the chance of a decent header, which Kasper Schmeichel saved, Leicester regained control of the match.
Another Nordtveld error allowed Vardy to score and the striker added another (his 100th competitive goal for Leicester) before the close.
Seventy years ago Fulham won 3-0 at Leicester, underlining their determination to win promotion to the top tier.
Their four remaining matches that year involved Luton (a), Brentford (h), Spurs (a) and West Ham (h).
The Football League committee responsible for compiling the fixtures had given Fulham and its supporters a run-in that necessitated very little travel (as some other clubs were quick to point out, especially when Fulham finished as champions).
The committee has long since been replaced by a computer, which has done the Whites no favour, least of all Scott Parker hoping for his first victory.
The next two opponents are Liverpool and Manchester City. Of course a Fulham win in either match would be great for morale and for Parker’s chances of a permanent appointment.
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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