Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Fulham 2 - 0 West Bromwich Albion

What a strange day this was. Walking to the ground, I had to check that kick off was at 1.30pm and not 1pm as it was so quiet on the Thames pathway. Even when we reached the Cottage there were none of the usual turnstile queues, which seemed strange for what felt like an extremely civilised KO time. In the ground there were many empty seats, but not nearly as many as was feared.
Anyway the game started and Fulham were pretty on top, practically a different team than that which appeared at Old Trafford in mid-week, despite featuring most of the same personnel.
Well the first half ended up as a game of who can hit the woodwork from outside the area most, with Danny Murphy beating Clint Dempsey by two to one. Scott Carson also made some astounding saves in front of watching England manager Fabio Capello and when half time came it was rather surprising that Fulham hadn't scored.
West Brom were probably the most anonymous team to arrive at Craven Cottage in the Premiership this season, but that's probably because they have just been promoted. I recognised very few names on the teamsheet. That said, at Old Trafford I heard some people asking who the hell the players were representing Fulham, which is kind of understandable given that two years ago only Dempsey and Davies were in the Fulham squad!
Fortunately the second half continued in much the same vein, although West Brom did try a bit more from long range to test Schwarzer a few times. The goal, when it came, was hardly a thing of beauty, but it was a long overdue strike from Bobby Zamora, who tapped it in at the far post from a deflected Paintsil cross. Bobby Z then went spaz and started shouting at the fans in the front row of the Hammersmith End. An odd celebration, but hell, the fans didn't care and many were ecstatic to see him get the monkey off his back. If anything it is these bread and butter tap ins that have been missing from his game. His previous two goals were both clean strikes from outside the box.
While Hangeland tried to muscle in on the midfielder's crossbar challenge by powering a header from a corner against the woodwork, Bobby Z became a man possessed. He swept a shot narrowly over, before beautifully controlling a long ball by Murphy on his chest and crashing the ball towards goal. A lesser keeper than Carson would have been picking the ball out of the net, but somehow he got in the way of the shot, albeit with his face. Fortunately the ball rebounded to Andy Johnson, who calmly slotted it past the covering defender on the line.
A well deserved victory with everyone having a good game, although WBA didn't exactly exert a lot of pressure on Fulham, and a result which some would argue vindicates Woy's tactics at Old Trafford.
Interestingly, Davies and Murphy did a wonderful job from free kicks and corners in this game. Maybe Jimmy won't be missed at all? Well not at the Cottage anyway. It's probably a different matter in Hull.

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