Monday, November 17, 2008

Performance & Cocktails - Fulham 2 Spurs 1

Simply thrilling. Fulham's best performance of the season so far and a joy to watch. Pre-match we'd discovered the cocktail bar in the Duke's Head. A retro styled oasis tucked away within the the lower levels of the riverside pub. We were, therefore, in good spirits when we arrived at the ground.

Fulham started well. The same style of play we're now used to under Roy but at a faster pace and with more accurate passing. For the first 20 or so minutes we seemed to be dominating. Dempsey, who had replaced Gera but was playing on the right wing (Simon Davies switching to the left), looked on top form and an audacious bit of skill, cutting the ball back inside his own legs, left two defenders out of position and allowed him to fire in an excellent shot with his left which Gomes did well to tip onto the crossbar. As the half hour approached though Spurs seemed to be getting back into it. David Bentley received a cross field pass from Modric and fired a shot centimetres wide of Schwarzer's right hand post. Then Darren Bent found a bit of space but could only toe-poke his shot into Schwarzer's arms. I began to worry that we might regret not scoring early when we had been so dominant. That all changed from the unlikeliest of opportunities.

Simon Davies cut in from the left wing to send a looping cross towards the penalty area with his favoured right foot. Not a spectacular ball and one which neither AJ nor Zamora were likely to win, however as it dropped, seemingly destined for Heurelho Gomes' arms, it took a slight deflection off Woodgates head which Gomes failed to react to. The Spurs 'keeper looked shell shocked as the ball bounced off his hands and into the back of the net. A shocker. The Fulham faithful were in full voice and making the most of their new "hero". On the pitch the goal led to renewed vigour and again the game swung back in our favour. Johnson's pace was causing all sorts of problems to the Spurs back four and he was combining well with strike partner Zamora.

Jimmy Bullard was having his best game since the Arsenal match that had resulted in his England call-up. His dead balls have been disappointing of late but, following a foul for a push on Dempsey, he took a rocket of a free kick that seemed destined for the bottom corner of the net but was well saved by the under pressure Gomes. Murphy continued to pull all the strings in midfield and with Simon Davies also back to his old self (despite playing left wing) our midfield looked impressive throughout. I was particularly pleased to see Dempsey finally get a deserved start and have no doubt he's done enough to retain his position.

The game was a real end to end thriller now. Spurs had switched to 4-4-2 at the break with Lennon and Pavyluchenko replacing Modric and Huddlestone. Lennon in particular was causing problems with his pace down our left flank. With the game delicately poised it seemed certain the next goal was going to be crucial. Thankfully it came our way. A Konchesky corner aimed to the far post saw Simon Davies rise above Gareth Bale to head goalwards. The ball was partially cleared but only as far as Davies' head again. This time he did enough to nod it into the danger area, where Andy Johnson reacted quickest to lash home from 2 yards. 2-0 Fulham and we were in ecstasy. In fact we celebrated so much that my friend Gibbo's phone took a trip over the barrier at the side of the Hammy End, to nestle safely, but completely out of reach, on the concrete ledge that runs down the side of where we sit.

It was nail biting time after that. Spurs pushed forward with greater intent and for a while we were on the back foot. Hangeland was immense during this period, seemingly winning every thing Spurs threw at us. Hughes, who'd also had a great game, was equally busy. Inevitably Spurs did score, Frazier Campbell firing home from the edge of the box to make the final ten minutes even more tense. Bobby Zamora, who had worked incredibly hard all game, almost restored our two goal advantage straight away. A high ball was nodded towards his own 'keeper by Ledley King, but it was Zamora who was closer and, with Gomes hopelessly out of position, he was unlucky not to find the target. Gera replaced Dempsey, Andreasen replaced Bullard, both departing players receiving rapturous applause. Zamora had one last moment of magic collecting the ball deep in the Spurs half, he held the ball up faked a step over once, then did it again, then a third time before playing the ball neatly back to another midfielder. The home end lapped it up.

A glorious game and a terrific result. As the full house cheered off our heroes, and John Paintsil went on another lap of honour, Gibbo did a bunk over the railings to retrieve his lost phone (still in one piece and in full working order). Nothing was ever going to spoil a day like this.


Mike H said...

Nice report. Glad you gave Zamora, Dempsey and Hughes a nod as well as the excellent Hangeland

chopper said...

Thanks Mike