By Morgan Phillips
Before Saturday’s home match against Hull City there was a brief ceremony of Remembrance.
The Last Post is always affecting and I have rarely heard it played so beautifully. As it died away the stadium erupted with cheers and applause.
Unfortunately, nothing else seemed to go right that afternoon. The team that had kept a clean sheet at Middlesbrough, despite the goalkeeper’s dismissal early in the game, capitulated tamely to mid-table Hull City.
Joe Bryan’s injury in the second minute robbed Fulham of a dynamic player, but Maxime le Marchand should have been an adequate replacement. Yet this experienced defender completely misjudged Callum Elder’s centre, deflecting the ball to Josh Bowler who shot home.
Wind and rain hampered both teams, but Fulham wasted a lot of effort in their response. Centre after centre buzzed across the penalty area, only to land in the clutches of Hull keeper George Long.
Not until the 31st minute did Fulham produce an accurate effort, with Aleks Mitrovic’s drive easily saved by Long. In the remaining hour of play the home side had no further shots on target.
Scott Parker changed the personnel but could not recapture the spirit of Middlesbrough. I struggled to find positives and some misguided fans were reduced to singing the praises of a professional foul by Stefan Johansen.
As the rain persisted, spectators in the front rows of the Hammersmith Stand retreated in search of a drier perch.
After Jarrod Bowen ran through a static defence to score, not a few people headed for the exit. The Fulham website wrote that Bowen ‘bared down on goal’, but it was too cold and wet for such exhibitionism.
Hull’s third and final goal had a touch of Buster Keaton. Marcus Bettinelli beat out a shot from Bowen, who had broken through yet again, and Thomas Eaves stumbled in his haste to reach the rebound.
The ball hit Eaves anyway and rolled over the line. This caused a further exodus even among the Johansen choir. I stayed on but there was no surprise ending.
Scott Parker did not look for excuses: “We weren’t anywhere near the level we needed to be, and that’s it.”
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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