By Morgan Phillips
To maintain their progress towards the Premier League, Fulham needed to win their home match against Barnsley, the team at the bottom of the Championship table.
So what happened?
Mid-way through the first half the visiting fans were asking how their team could possibly be a goal up. By the close they were chanting ‘We want four’.
A recent blog of mine described how Gary Barnett once won the Man of the Match award by spending the entire game on the bench. By that token the award for the Barnsley match should be shared by Marcus Bettinelli, Denis Odoi, Cyrus Christie and Stefan Johansen.
True, the wind and rain impeded the players, but Barnsley coped better throughout.
Fulham soon got mired in the close-passing tactic that proved so disastrous at the Etihad, and the visitors took advantage.
The unravelling started when goalkeeper Marek Rodak fumbled the ball and, in attempting to retrieve it, collided with Jacob Brown. The resultant penalty allowed Cauley Woodrow to score against his former club. Rodak’s counterpart Brad Collins was barely tested in the horrendously drab first half.
After the interval Fulham showed more resolve and Aleksandar Mitrovic finally threatened to score, Collins saving with his outstretched foot.
Sadly, it was a subsequent Fulham attack that led to Barnsley’s second goal. Woodrow’s long clearance out to the wing was pursued not only by the lively Jacob Brown but also by Marek Rodak, who came a poor second and watched Brown turn the ball into the empty net.
Scott Parker signalled some random substitutions during the second period, though only Aboubakar Kamara made even the slightest impact.
Rodak completed a miserable afternoon when his miskick prompted another Barnsley attack ending with a stylish goal from the inspired Woodrow. This prompted the biggest exodus since the parting of the Red Sea.
All tickets for the match had been sold but the weather and some transport problems deterred quite a few spectators. The ground was half-empty by the close.
The consistency of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Marek Rodak has taken Fulham to third place in the Championship, and we cannot begrudge either of them an off day. Let us hope that they and the rest of the team have now got it out of their system. Scott Parker has apologised, and further recriminations would be pointless.
Cauley Woodrow, our nemesis in this defeat, was undervalued by a procession of Fulham managers, particularly Kit Symons and Slavisa Jokanovic.
It would have been more sensible to refine his talent than to pay extravagant prices for indifferent strikers. Cauley’s reluctance to revel in scoring two goals and creating a third at the Cottage is hugely to his credit.
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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