Fulham: There's Light At The End Of The Tunnel Again
To put it simply, I genuinely cannot see how this season is going to pan out anymore. When you think it is all but done, something revives your optimism. When you see the light at the end of the tunnel, someone sees fit to turn it back off again. Unpredictable is probably the only word I can use to describe the situation Fulham currently find themselves in.
It was only last week where I had finally accepted that our top flight status was drawing to a close. But, in typical Fulham fashion, this dejection was to turn into unimaginable elation. The joy and, mainly, the relief that surrounded the full-time whistle after the game at Villa was unprecedented. The struggles of our sorry season has slowly turned into some form of happiness, and it has weirdly filled us with hope that we can now survive the drop.
The unusual sight of 3,000 Fulham fans at Villa Park was a huge contribution towards our vital victory. Our away following produced quite a din, and it was safe to say that the reward for the support was sufficient enough.
To be frank, the first half was virtually a non-event, with the odd chance here and there. Fulham’s biggest opportunity came through youngster Woodrow, who for me, showed a lack of composure when given the chance, though that is understandable from a player of his age.
I have made it clear that we cannot rely on our youth prospects to be leading the line for us in our relegation battle, and whilst Woodrow played well, he didn’t provide what was needed in the game. The introduction of Hugo Rodallega and Ashkan Dejagah completely changed the game. We looked like a team with purpose and threat, and this was mainly down to the pairing.
Once again, Dejagah demonstrated why he is probably one of the best players at the club. A winger who takes on defenders, has trickery in his locker, and can deliver a ball. That may sound simple to you, but after watching the likes of Kacaniklic and Kasami fading in and out of games, it’s nice to see. He caused severe problems down the right, and was pivotal in our big chances throughout the second half.
I must say, Richardson’s opener is a bit of blur to me, with pandemonium ensuing after he unleashed a rocket of a shot into the top corner. It was one of many positive drives forward in the second period, and the finish was sublime. Mind you, I knew we were unlikely to hold on and keep a clean sheet, so I prepared myself for the worst.
The boys were to prove me right, with defending that has become common place at the club, gifting Grant Holt the easiest of headers to equalise. I can’t say I was too surprised, and weirdly enough, I felt relieved, as I knew we had nothing to lose at this point.
It became very end-to-end, and when Lewis Holtby rounded the goalkeeper, the entirety of the away end went mental, only to see the ball fail to cross the line by a millimetre. With the look on the German’s face, and the amount of time left in the game, it seemed as if it was game over for Fulham’s Premier League status.
What infuriates me is that as soon as the technology has come into place, all it has done is go against us, which pretty much sums up our club as a whole. Luck doesn’t normally seem to travel to SW6, but it sure did in the final few minutes.
My heart rate was fluctuating more than Sol Campbell’s on Tottenham High Street, and it’s safe to say that the nerves were unbearable. Cue Rodallega heading home with minutes to spare. Absolute carnage followed in the away end, with fans falling over several rows of seats and losing all control of their bodily movements, and that was just me.
The typical routine of curling your toes every time Villa received the ball was the following act, and the final whistle had never been met with more relief. Such a result has given us the glimmer of hope that we need to push ourselves over the line, and strangely enough, I feel our fate rests in our own hands now.
A big mention has to go to Mahamadou Diarra, who returned to the team following a 16-month lay-off and played like a man bang in form. He took complete control of the midfield and gave us the cool head that we have been crying out for in the middle all season. His ability to break down play, distribute the ball, and remain composed in crucial periods was a huge boost.
It goes without saying that this has given us a huge boost going into our must-win encounter at home to Norwich. Three points could give us some breathing space, particularly with the Canaries’ brutal run-in.
However, we have to remember that this is Fulham we are talking about, and nothing is a formality. It would be typical for us to lose this one, wouldn’t it? Will I ever be happy?