By Morgan Phillips
Last September, Fulham supporters felt reasonably confident that the club would survive in the Premier League.
Five points from six matches had lifted Fulham to 15th in the table, ahead of Wolves, Cardiff, Huddersfield, Newcastle and Burnley.
Then came six consecutive defeats, one of them at Huddersfield, the Yorkshire men’s first win of the season. It became clear that both sides were out of their depth and heading for relegation.
Last Friday saw Fulham return to the Kirklees Stadium. In a largely uneventful first-half, our newcomers Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro provided further evidence of their skill and eagerness for goals.
But the match was scoreless until the 51st minute, when Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacana miss-hit his pass and allowed Aleks Mitrovic to nod home.
The hosts equalised six minutes later. Marcus Bettinelli appeared to have saved Karlan Grant’s header but official technology revealed that the ball had crossed the line.
Fulham regained the lead in the 80th minute with an admirable curling shot from Ivan Cavaleiro’s left foot. This was particularly galling for the home side, who had recently tried to sign the Portuguese star.
Steven Sessegnon, one of the Fulham players involved in the build-up, won the supporters’ Man of the Match award on his Championship debut.
Near the end of the game Mitrovic tangled with two Huddersfield players and then rolled on the turf clutching his face. "What a performance!", as Sid Field used to say. It looked even worse on TV. The Serb should concentrate on his principal skill: scoring goals.
In the subsequent home match against Millwall, Mitrovic had another confrontation - this time with Jake Cooper.
Referee Darren Bond reprimanded both players at length, but fortunately issued yellow, not red, cards.
Fulham were already 1-0 up through Cavaleiro, who reprised his wonder strike from the previous game. The winger next provided the cross that gave Anthony Knockaert his first Fulham goal.
Two goals down and thoroughly outplayed, Millwall rallied briefly after the interval but the home side’s defence was as dominating as its attack.
We then witnessed the better side of Mitrovic, when he controlled Harry Arter’s fierce drive and swerved away from goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski. The Polish international brought him down and had no chance of saving Mitrovic’s penalty.
This outstanding team performance was capped by a further goal from Cavaleiro, provided by skipper Tom Cairney.
Scott Parker and his men are doing us proud.
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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