April 19 2009
Middlesbrough did themselves no favours in thier relegation battle by drawing with a relaxed looking Fulham side. Fulham's attack could be accused of a lack of ambition, or being a bit too relaxed after failing to score against the relegation strugglers. Boro had their chances, but a great display from the back four and a marvelous display by Schwarzer in goal, kept the ball out ofthe Fulham net.
Fulham had a bit of a slow start at the Riverside, with only a skyward Clint Dempsey shot to show for the first half hour. In fact the usually excellent Dempsey failed to see a wide open Johnson to pass to, and so gave up Fulham's best chance to score early on. Middlesbrough had the run of the play with great attempts by Alves and Aliadiere. The first was blocked by Aaron Hughes, who had a great game and the second was palmed away by Schwarzer. Andy Johnson had a wonderful oppurtunity that glanced off the indside of the post and skidded harmlessly and frustratingly down the goal line.
The second half started with a bit more passion and attacking spirit from The Whites, but not before Schwarzer made a class save from Sanli's header. The Cottagers' goalie was again on form moments later when he tipped Downing's shot over the crossbar. The Fulham offensive looked better but failed to capitalise on good attacking play, with Zamora failing to get a shot on target right in front of the goal. Gera came on for Andy Johnson which was a bit of a surprise for all concerned, but didn't really change things. Kamara came on with a few minutes to go, and looked keen but it was a pointless gesture with so little time to go. There was a late rally by Fulham in the dying minutes, but it was too little, too late
Mark Schwarzer - A world class performance
My view is that this was a very winnable match, and Fulham's midfield and attack were not performing at the level that they are capable of. Roy Hodgson, too was back to being over cautious away from home, and did not change the attack early enough. i woul have put a hungry Nevland and Kamara on at 70 mins to replace the disappointing Zamora and the frustrated Johnson. A lack of ambition meant that we missed a chance to go ahead of West Ham on a day that they drew against Villa. Anyway, on to the Super Fulham 3 Stars......
* John Pantsil. good in defence and useful attacking runs up the wing. becoming a master of the defensve counter-attack!
** Aaron Hughes. Some game saving blocks and tackles. He was really on the ball today.
*** Mark Schwarzer. A brace of world class saves. Directs the back four well at the many set pieces he had to deal with today. Calm and cool under pressure - A great day at his old home - Boro will be regretting his move to South West London!
Super Fulham Man of the Match - Mark Schwarzer