By Morgan Phillips
Fulham supporters needed a morale-booster to erase the memory of the Etihad and this arrived in the first quarter of an hour of the home match against Huddersfield.
First Michael Hector sent over a cross-field pass worthy of Johnny Haynes, which spurred Bobby de Cordova-Reid to bamboozle the visitors’ defence and score.
Then Tom Cairney gathered Cyrus Christie’s low centre and flicked the ball home.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, returning from injury, was having an understandably quiet game (by his standards) but on the half hour he skilfully diverted Joe Bryan’s cross to add to Fulham’s advantage.
Unusually the home side were defending the Putney End in the first half, so the fans in the Hammersmith Stands had a wonderful view of the three goals.
The commanding lead gave players and supporters a rare feeling of impregnability. Surely the docile Huddersfield could not offer any threat. We should all have been wiser. The visitors rallied and successfully penetrated the home side’s left flank twice before the interval.
The half-time entertainment included an interview with Gary Barnett. In the 1980s when the club’s continued existence looked precarious, Gary was one of the on-pitch heroes who sustained our spirits while others behind the scenes devoted their time and money to keeping Fulham alive.
Inevitably despite the need for unity in those days there were some poor performances and some harsh critics. On one occasion the supporters chose Gary as Man of the Match when he had spent all 90 minutes on the substitute’s bench.
Although such dark humour had no place in Saturday’s match a second half incident almost took us back to those straitened times.
After one football was kicked over the Johnny Haynes Stand into Stevenage Road and another vanished into the building site on the riverside there was a bizarre delay while someone hunted for a replacement. ‘One ball. We’ve only got one ball’ sang the crowd.
That provided comic relief in a half that tested the nerves of the home fans.
Straight after the interval Marek Rodak in goal saved a Karlan Grant free kick and proceeded to thwart the former Charlton forward on four more occasions.
Marek’s handling was impeccable, otherwise Huddersfield would have secured a draw if not an away win.
Fulham did not achieve a single shot on target in the second half but the players deserved credit for preserving the slender lead.
For me, the keeper was Man of the Match, but others certainly contributed to the victory. There was no danger of a non-playing substitute getting the nomination.
To complete a happy afternoon, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest both lost. The West London challenge lives on.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
Want to read more news stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly e-news bulletin.
By sending us a comment, you are agreeing to our publishing policy.