Friday, 3 December 2010

Return of the King - FUL 1-1 BHM

It's a strange old game when the highlight is the return of a right back. Carlos Salcido, clearly not fit, was hauled off after a very, very poor 20 minutes in which he was pretty culpable for the away team's breakaway goal after unnecessarily lunging in at Hleb near the halfway line. His replacement? None other than Johnny P who had hitherto been frozen out of Hughes' plans after a shoddy start to the season.
In truth it was a surprise to see Paintsil get the nod ahead of Kelly, but I've seen reports that Johnny was ready to go on the pitch and Stephen wasn't so Hughes shoved our favourite Ghanaian into action. It was a rousing ovation for Paintsil, with his every touch cheered. The Birmingham fans must have thought we were going mad. Surprisingly he took the right back berth with Baird moving to left back - considering JP has played LB at international level. Still Paintsil actually had a really solid game, which was good to see. Baird didn't play bad either at left back, although in an attacking sense he constantly had to cut back onto his right, which unfortunately slowed the team's momentum. The one time Baird did try and whip one over with his left, it was fairly dangerous.
This was a better outing for Fulham than in recent times, although Dickson Etuhu was mainly anonymous for the match, playing around half as many passes as most of the other players. And while they looked in control for most of the game, Ben Foster just wasn't tested at all. Any shots on target ended going straight at him and it was just Dempsey's desire to reach the ball that plundered the equaliser (once Davies and Baird decide to actually cross the ball into the box rather than fanny around with it).
In all the game had a more relaxed atmosphere about it - almost a tacit acceptance amongst the fans that after a couple of years of unprecedented success Fulham are shit again and the fans should try and enjoy themselves despite what is going off on the pitch. We even found ourselves cheering Eddie Johnson when he came on - he even managed a shot on target that Foster was semi-lucky to turn away with his feet. If he'd had scored the winner than all bets were off for the remainder of the season. It would have almost been enough to convince FIFA that magical football moments happen in England.

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