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Season 2011-12
COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY

From My Seat: Fulham (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  23/10/2011
 10 Comments (»Last)
Down to the Cottage on the back of a dismal run, albeit defeats by top teams, but to a ground that have only seen two victories for the Blues since 1966 and it is a tall order even when we are in form and firing.

The away end packed as per usual and amid the songs of support for manager and players many were lauding the manager for his team selection which saw starts for both Drenthe and Vellios.

The game was to unfold as a contest between two teams that have problems. Fulham are finding it difficult to manage their European adventure with a small squad and Everton low on confidence from both off-field and on-field problems. The game without ever hitting the heights turned into and entertaining game with a late cherry on the top for the travelling faithful.

The game started with the Blues well on top and looking to exploit any European hangover from the hosts. A breakthrough came more quickly than anyone expected when a build up down our right saw Hibbert, Drenthe, Fellaini and Rodwell involved, just as it looked as though the move had broken down, Rodwell squirted the ball in the direction of Blue shirts and the lively Drenthe was on it in a flash and hit a screaming curler from the edge of the box and into the bottom corner of the net. The celebration from both player and fans was spectacular. One up within 3 mins was a tonic for all of a Blue persuasion.

The Blues buoyed by the start continued to press and Drenthe fired up by his strike had two more long range blasts but without any reward.

Slowly but surely Fulham got back into the game and around the 20-min mark they had their first shot in anger when Riise fired with venom but over the bar. Then a real let off when Chester lad Danny Murphy let fly, hit a post, hit Howard flew across goal and out for a corner. Howard was alert to stop a header from the gigantic centre back. Fulham now were on top and we were dropping deeper as half-time approached.

It was familiar stuff with Jags punting to no one and where our mid-field had been confident early doors they were now hesitant and unable to have the confidence to get a foot on the ball and build but rather treat it as a hot potato so the H/T whistle was welcome.

The half-time chat was that a change was needed. Vellios had been given a start and he had toiled hard and tried to hold it up until the cavalry could catch up but the 19yr old was finding it difficult.

No changes at the start of the half but with just 5mins gone Saha replaced the Greek who was given a good send off and I have no doubt the experience will have done him good. We were not as adventurous now and a turgid mid-field battle ensued with neither side looking like fashioning anything.

Just after the hour mark Fulham hooked Murphy and sent on Ruiz. Within minutes it proved to be an inspired change when Dempsey found Ruiz just inside the box left-hand side. He then produced the most delightful of chip shots and with Howard only a yard or so off his line the ball evaded his jump and dipped just under the bar, a truly superb strike. We tried to respond and our attacking momentum improved and a few shots were tried but many being half blocked by desperate defenders.

On 75mins Osman and Neville were replaced with Cahill and Coleman, the Irishman immediately showed his pace and had a couple of good raids which came to nought. Fulham upped it as well and the game became more open and end to end and in this period the Blues had two penalty shouts that to the observer looked nailed on but to the man that matters,nothing. Both were committed by Hangeland the second of which he dragged Cahill down for an offence that could be labelled a 'Carragher'.

We were on for a draw as the 89th min arrived but from a Fulham attack the ball fell kindly for Zamora who controlled it well and just walked it around the charging Howard and with the goal gaping and Blue hoards with sinking feelings he contrived to hit the ball wildly over the bar. What a miss, what a reprieve ? hell, he could just have rolled it in.

Would you believe it, with the board just up showing time added on we went down the left, Drenthe fed Saha in the box who showed good strength and burst past Hangeland and slid the ball beyond the keeper and into the net. The travelling faithful lifted the roof and were in full celebration when we came down the right and put in a cross which was headed out to edge of the box where it found Rodwell who smartly smashed it back and into the net and the celebrations rolled into one and a wall of noise could be heard for miles.

Final whistle, all celebrated and the players were that beside themselves some became disorientated in finding the players tunnel as on this ground it is on the opposite side to the dug-outs. The fans were singing the Moyes song and he gave us a clap and a wave.

MotM ? Drenthe; he brought pace, work-rate and a willingness to shoot. Hibbert was well worth a mention too.

Overall a welcome three points that were sorely needed in our present fixture run and a big thank you to Mr Zamora. The fans seemed happy with the team selection and the substitutions.

A busy week coming up with games against top opposition. The line up for Wednesday night will be more than interesting considering we welcome the severely wounded Man Utd on Saturday...

Still this is what we follow the team for, games against the best and the hope we can turn them over. Here's hoping to see you Wednesday and Saturday.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Brian Denton
1   Posted 24/10/2011 at 09:26:58

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Why do people go on about our poor record at Fulham since 1966? FFS we can hardly beat them if they are in a different Division, which they have been for most of that time. If my memory serves, we did the double on them in 66-67 and then they were relegated. They didn't reappear in the same Division as us until the late 90s.

We haven't won in the league at Cardiff City for a long time, don't you know.........?
Susong Hermawan
2   Posted 24/10/2011 at 09:21:15

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A vital poin to boost up team confident...we were lucky, a little bit...but im happy...NSNO!
Andy McNabb
3   Posted 24/10/2011 at 10:28:38

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Excellent report as usual, Ken. Is it my imagination or is there a widening gap between those who watch from the stands and those who write on internet sites?
That isn't supposed to be a clever question. From 12,000 miles away it can be difficult to gauge the fan in the streets perception of things and the vast majority of my interaction these days is from the 'net.
I get the impression that although there can be a lot of criticism of Moyes on sites such as this, it doesn't necessarily reflect what 30,000 at Goodison or our away support think?
Tony J Williams
4   Posted 24/10/2011 at 09:37:15

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Brian probably because this is only our 3rd game out of 20 where we have managed to get anything at all. They are one of our many bogey sides, good job they played Thursday and its a good job Zamora is shite.

Anyone else notice that MOTD2 didn't show any of the penalty incidents.
Kevin Sparke
5   Posted 24/10/2011 at 11:13:13

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MOTD2 is a bloody joke. I used to consider BBC bias against Everton was a product of my over fertile imagination - it's not, it's real, it exists. Probably because of out of town reds infiltration into all areas of production, editing and presentation. Think about it - when have we ever had a fair deal from the BBC? Media dahlinks of the BBC are all card carrying kopites from hot bed of Liverpool core support Surrey, Middlesex and Essex... bastards

I watched 'Football First' on the evil Sky TV empire and both penalty 'shouts' were highlighted. Say what you like about Rupert Murdoch but he's no Kopite

Thanks for the report Ken - good as ever.
Bruce Moxham
6   Posted 24/10/2011 at 12:00:22

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Great finale to the match but we were a bit lucky, could easily have been another depressing defeat. Our defence was getting constantly caught out by Zamora and dempsey in the first half and the lack of energy shown by Fellaini and Rodwell at times was shocking. We had a 10 minutes spell after Coleman came on where we were all over fulham and they couldnt get the ball, would love to see us try and play at that tempo more often.
John Crook
7   Posted 24/10/2011 at 13:13:59

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Welcome relief with regards to the 3 points. But, if we play like that consistently, we will loose 8 times out of 10 even against the likes of Wolves and Norwich and the other teams who you would expect to bottom half come May.

Far too many mistakes that need to be ironed out. It has been my wish all season for Jagielka to be dropped ? we have a much tidier centre-half sitting on the bench. But I can't see Moyes changing the pairing unless there is an injury or suspension.
Michael Coville
8   Posted 24/10/2011 at 17:50:26

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Thanks Ken, good report as usual. Unfortunately our distribution from the bask is terrible. It is not only Jags but I lost count of the number of times Howard booted the ball up field and the Fulham defenders got the ball. I am not sure if it is the fault of the back four in not making themselves available but I did see Howard a lots of occasions wave them away and boot it upfield. If you watch Barcelona for example the goalkeeper almost never kicks the ball out, the attack starts from the back.
Wayne Smyth
9   Posted 24/10/2011 at 18:04:43

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Agree completely John(7).

Firstly it was a great result; I understand Fulham have a decent home record in general and they are not a bad side, so to go there and win 3-1 is good, no matter who you are.

However, in the same vein as the Blackburn game, the scoreline hides the truth. I think we were lucky to escape with a point, never mind 3. On reflection fulham probably edged it over 90 minutes and if zamora had not missed an open net we'd be discussing 17th place and 3 more dropped points, rather than brief respite in this current storm.

I thought our passing was poor and our movement was worse. Neville was awful, playing hospital balls and hoofing the ball so high that low-flying aircraft would be in danger.....yet it seems many here reserved their vitriol for Fellaini, who I thought did ok.

As per-usual he tried to play football by controlling the ball and passing to a blue shirt, often playing the ball to feet to someone 20 yards AHEAD of him, even. I don't recall many misplaced passes. I do however recall a sloppy pass by a fresh tim cahill late on in the game when felli was probably knackered; guess who got the criticism lol.....lazy wanker felli of course.

Anyway, Neville aside I thought Moyes did ok. Starting Drenthe was good. Playing drenthe as a holding midfielder with felli behind the striker I will never understand. Would've been nice to see Vellios AND Saha for a few minutes at least, but beggars can't be choosers, and getting Saha on was the right call to make.

I'm sure people here will criticise our passing, but I encourage you to look at the lack of movement from our players in general. Since losing Arteta and Pienaar, Drenthe is the only one we have who genuinely wants the ball and makes an effort to show for it. The solution to that problem down to the coach, unfortunately.
Dennis Stevens
10   Posted 24/10/2011 at 19:22:55

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Great match report, as usual, Ken. Nice to see Moyes making a few changes to the starting line-up, although I can think of one or two more I'd like to see as it seems to me certain players are almost certain to play despite very few performing to a level that would merit automatic selection, imo.

We were very fortunate to come away with a win, when it looked as though Fulham were the more likely to snatch a late winner, but we've suffered enough from not taking our chances in the past so I feel no sympathy for the Cottagers failing to take theirs. I felt we were a little more positive today from the off, so perhap's it was just reward. Anyway, that's football!

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