Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Fulham 2 - 1 Aston Villa

Yes, you read that right. A third home win of the season and well deserved too against a high flying Aston Villa team which could have moved into fourth spot (albeit by scoring five) with a win.
This was the first glimpse that the home fans had been given of Woy Hodgson's new look side, despite him being in situ for around six weeks, and there were definitely signs that it may not be too late yet.
The midweek away match at Bolton provided a bit of an indication that Fulham were now a 4-5-1 team even with the new players. This is a bit frustrating, especially at fellow strugglers where a win would have been wonderful. However a defeat would have been unthinkable and in the end it appears the goalless draw was a good set-up for a somewhat unexpected victory against the Villains. Anyway - expect more 0-0 draws away from home.
In this match poor Baird got booed before he even came on, but despite this he started brightly and won some important headers and made some useful tackles. After about 20 minutes though, he reverted to type and was quite simply shocking. His distribution went awol, which caused his head to drop, which then affected the rest of his game. I'm amazed he didn't get hooked during the 90 minutes. If he thought the crowd was on his back during this game then he should be pleased that the fans didn't know that he'd decked St Jimmy Bullard in training. They'd have lynched him. Other players who played below their previous high performance levels were Danny Murphy and Paul Konchesky.
In the first half, Fulham were reasonably comfortable, but that all changed at the start of the second with Villa having constant pressure, but not really testing the keeper. Inevitably they did score from a corner but yet another own goal. Villa have only scored 3 against Fulham this season, which includes two OGs - one from an ex-Villa player and one from a defender who signed for Villa three days later!
Anyway, whether the goal made Villa rest on their laurels, or gave Fulham a kick up the arse, or whether it was the introduction of the talismanic Brian McBride for the hardworking Erik Nevland, the game suddenly changed. Fulham were in the ascendancy, equalised quickly and then saw Bully do his Roy of the Rovers stuff from the freekick. Woy doesn't want too much pressure to be placed on the shoulders of the maniac (or McBride either) but if they continue to have such influence on games then the weight of expectation on them will only grow. Especially at the business end of this season.

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