Sunday, 31 January 2010

Fulham 0 - 2 Aston Villa

What a strange old match this was. Not without excitement, but somewhat lacking a storyline. Agbonlahor's two goals just before half-time neutering any drama.
Fulham are a sorry state without their full backs, who are so important to their forward drive. Hughes at right back was somewhat timid in crossing the halfway line and was desperately missed in the middle, where Hangeland and the increasingly expensive looking Smalling were carrying out some kind of Laurel & Hardy tribute act. Hangeland alone has been woefully out of sorts since returning from injury and was at fault for both goals. To me it looked like Agbonlahor's first goal was a foul on Smalling but his second was well taken. It was a shame that he spoilt it all with his lack of class by goading the Hammy End for no reason at all. Villa's goals actually came during Fulham's best spell of the first half as the Villains had spurned a couple of great opportunities earlier in the match.
Fulham had their chances throughout the game, but never looked deadly and rarely coherent. The second half was mainly Fulham 'attacking' but Friedel in the Villa goal only had to pull off a couple of good saves to keep a clean sheet.
Subs Riise and Elm combined well, but the latter's goal was unfortunately scrubbed off by a linesman's flag which earlier in the game appeared to be activated whenever Nevland got the ball. Bobby Z did well, but at times had to run onto his own flick-ons because of the lack of white shirts running beyond him.
The biggest cheer of the game came late on when a ball boy caught a badly directed looping ball. The little scamp (and I do mean little - Fulham's Ball Boys are tiny) lapped up the applause.
The strange match saw a Villa side not playing particularly well, yet comfortably winning. The ref Lee Mason had an odd day too, seemingly blowing up whenever a Villa player hit the deck but allowing the away team (Heskey in particular) to get away with some rough stuff.
In essence Villa physically and psychologically wanted the game more than an increasingly ragged looking Fulham side, but I would doubt they would come away with 3 points from many other opposition grounds playing like they did on Saturday. Roll on Wednesday and hopefully a chance to arrest this losing streak.

Attending: Me, Col and Rob.

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