By Morgan Phillips
It was generous of Fulham’s owners to organise £10 tickets for the FA Cup match at the Etihad and now Quest TV’s Colin Murray is suggesting further acts of munificence. He feels that every season ticket holder should be allotted one free hour of psychotherapy a week to cope with the stress of so many single goal victories. In an earlier version of his joke it was a free manicure but why should we bite our fingernails when our players are winning and Leeds United are stumbling?
The visit to Blackburn Rovers may have lacked the excitement of the 3-2 home win over Huddersfield but it produced another three points for Fulham, who looked the sharper side throughout. The Blackburn keeper Christian Walton was tested by Michael Hector, Tom Cairney and a couple of tricky deflections before conceding in the 65th minute. A defensive error allowed Joe Bryan to find Aleksandar Mitrovic, who swivelled and shot past Walton.
As Rovers made a late effort to retain their unbeaten run, Marek Rodak thwarted Sam Gallagher. The home team’s Darragh Lenihan showed that Mitrovic was not the only one who could shoot on the turn. Luckily his impressive effort was given offside. The 1-0 victory left Fulham in third position but level in points with Leeds. When United visited the Cottage just before Christmas they were 12 points ahead of us.
The following Tuesday evening Brentford and Leeds drew and Nottingham Forest lost at home. Both results favoured Fulham as they prepared to visit Millwall on Wednesday. Back in August our 4-0 defeat of the East London side indicated Fulham’s new potential with Anthony Knockaert and Ivan Cavaleiro joining Mitrovic on the score sheet. A second victory would put the Whites into second place in the Championship.
Fulham could hardly have made a better start, Mitrovic converting Joe Bryan’s pass in the third minute. Unfortunately Millwall equalised just five minutes later when Jon Dadi Bodvarsson scored from an offside position. The assistant referee presumably thought that the ball had come off a Fulham player – the Championship has been spared VAR but as it happens the TV recordings do not show the incident clearly enough to reverse the decision.
Worse ensued. Joe Bryan’s unwise lunge at Mahlon Romeo gave Millwall a penalty. Visiting fans laughed when Jed Wallace’s kick landed in the stands but it had hit the bar en route, so perhaps it was Fulham’s lucky night after all. After that frantic 22 minute opener there was no further scoring, so the Whites still trail Leeds on goal difference. Leaders West Bromwich won at Reading and are six points ahead. Half a dozen clubs are challenging for that important second spot, so psychotherapy may be needed after all.
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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