October 26 2008
Fulham's late goal ensures a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth, as a more aggressive substitution strategy reaps rewards. I would like to think that Roy was reading my last article, as he seemed to follow the strategy perfectly! After an unimpressive first half, a good spell early on was nullified by Portsmouth. Going into the break, Fulham needed to turn things round.
The first half did not set the world on fire for either team, but Fulham certainly looked like they were to be the first to concede, and my thoughts were that the attacking play looked sluggish. Andy Johnson had a good chance saved, and saw the ball in the net, only to be ruled offside, but Pompey looked to be the stronger side. The Manager needed to have a serious chat to get things moving again. It seems that the performance last time we were at Fratton Park was a fading memory and nothing more. Some sloppy midfield play, such as inaccurate passing, poor vision along with some good interceptions by Portsmouth meant that Defoe and Crouch were allowed to set up and finish an opportunity that no one could blame Schwarzer for not saving.
Fulham restarted unconvincingly in the 61st minute, and it became obvious that Andy Johnson was always a 1 or 2 feet off the pace of the Portsmouth defence, and struggled to get a shot on goal. It felt that this game would stay 1-0 but Roy decided to shake things up a bit by taking off Gera, who didn't look at his best in this match, and replacing him with Dempsey. Playing Clint as an attacking midfield option, along with the front two is where he seems happiest. No one can doubt his energy and commitment to Fulham and he made a real difference by tightening up the offensive midfield play.
The real change in formation came with the arrival of Nevland for the hard working Pantsill, increasing the attack to four likely candidates for goal scorer. A neat pass by Andy Johnson to Nevland followed by a great cross into the box, found Dempsey ready and waiting for a great volley into the net. Fulham held on to the draw with some end to end heart-stopping moments to earn a much needed point away from the Cottage.
The addition of Dempsey and Nevland turned Fulham round and injected some energy and drive. Well done Roy for changing the plan and salvaging a point.