Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fulham 0 Liverpool 2 - Not long now

Having thought it was definitely over after Sunderland only to have our hopes raised following Reading it was typically Fulhamish that we'd lose this game, effectively ending any remaining thoughts of salvation. Unexpectedly we'd gone into this game with renewed belief, a win really could have put us back in contention and the first 15 minutes showed a side desperate to achieve that and a crowd ready to cheer them all the way one more time. It wasn't to be. Liverpool rested a few key stars but still fielded a decent starting eleven. It's a sign of how far we've fallen that we were really no match for them.

The first goal pretty much won the game, before it we looked lively and keen, after it we looked pedestrian and concerned. A crisp pass from the impressive Luca in midfield left our entire back four flat footed, and Jermaine Pennant comfortably outpaced Hangeland before firing a swift shot past the static Keller. The American 'keeper appeared to think about attempting a save but changed his mind only to see it nestle in the back of his net. A shockingly simple goal. We had moments after that and tried hard to get back into the game but the belief had gone. We lacked energy, lost most of the 50/50's and seemed always to be second to react to changes in the play. The second goal when it came was depressingly similar to the first. Neat play from the Liverpool midfield, a through ball from Pennant that cut out our whole defence, and a powerful shot from Crouch that, whilst straight at Keller, was pretty much unstoppable.

Few players came out with much credit. Simon Davies was our greatest attacking threat, placing a number of decent crosses it the right areas. Paul Stalteri pushed forward well and was energetic throughout. Healy worked hard to make something happen but was flagging by the time Nevland replaced him. In centre midfield Murphy was a luxury we really couldn't afford and Bullard again looked like he was trying too hard to make it happen for us. This was encapsulated for me as we made our last despairing attempts to pull something back in the closing stages. McBride had picked up the ball on the edge on the penalty area after a previous shot had been saved, he looked up to see Jimmy calling for the ball on the far side of the "D". Brian lofted a ball straight to Jimmy who attempted a volley only to see it skew tamely wide of the post. Kamara replaced McBride and Andreasen replaced Murphy as Roy made his final throw of the dice. Our last chance came from Dempsey, who had earlier managed to direct a couple of tricky headers goalwards, but his shot was deflected just wide of the post.

It's really just a matter of time, a win at Manchester City could give us something to shout for in the last home game. Reading, Birmingham and Bolton could still make it hard for themselves but at best we can manage 36 points and that is unlikely to be enough to stay in the Premier League.

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