Fulham 1 - 1 Birmingham City

This was an interesting and promising match.  Been a good long time since we've seen a balanced, calm yet aggressive attack for an extended period of time from Fulham like the 2nd half of this game.  I think it's safe to say this team is a clear 2nd half team. Breakdown time.

The Good:

Chris Baird - Created multiple chances off crosses.  Some were good and some were bad, but he didn't give any bad balls away, which is a serious weakness of this team.  I really liked how he created opportunities.

John Pantsil - Really the whole defense played well, but I single out Pantsil because he came in for an injured (thank God) Salcido at a moments' notice and played outstanding.  Not only was he solid in his own end, but he played back on corners and also, like Baird, had a few nice crosses.  I think he earned some more playing time over the disasterous Salcido (more on that later).

The entire attack - Moreso in the 2nd half, this was a renewed attack we haven't seen in a while.  Dempsey and Gera had nice headers on the lone goal, Dempsey had a great chance later in the game, and the entire half there were chances.  They need to figure out how to finish with more than just Dempsey, but for now I'll take baby steps.  I was impressed.

The Bad: There aren't many that really stand out, but outside of Salcido I'll try to nitpick a bit.

Salcido - Ugh.  Before getting hurt he did nothing to help the team, and once again completely blew what turned into a goal for the other team.  After flopping on Tevez's first goal against Man City, today he charged and completely whiffed at a half-hearted tackle on Alexander Hleb.  I'm glad he got hurt.  Maybe he'll take his time coming back this time.

Brede Hangeland - I don't think there's any question his defensive skills are outstanding.  I've been nothing but impressed by him this season.  However, his ball skills may need a bit of sharpening.  He had a few silly passes and when challenged he usually concedes the ball quite easily.

The officiating - They did an absolutely horrible job figuring out who touched the ball last on multiple occasions, including one that clearly deflected off Nikola Zigic (by the way, did anyone else watching the game find it funny how Martin Tyler enjoyed saying Zigic's name so much?) but was given as a Birmingham goal kick.  There were also a number of challenges on both sides that should have been blown dead but weren't.  At least they were consistent in letting them play, but I thought it was poor.

Defining moment - Has to be Dempsey's goal, but I considered Dempsey's missed shot later in the match.  Both were the culmination of a lot of nifty successful passing and good opportunity making.

What we learned - This team isn't relegation material.  They may not be top half of the board by any means, at least not now, but they are definitely not getting relegated, and I firmly believe that.  There are a few teams much worse than them, and Fulham fans can breathe easy in that department.  However, they have a lot of work to do to move themselves out of the very bottom of the board.  I'm confident going forward, but Fulham have a tough few matches ahead, including at Arsenal next.  They'll have to bring their A game.  If they can avoid a loss in the next 3 matches vs Arsenal, Sunderland, and Liverpool, I'll be happy.  And if they avoid a loss in all 3 of those matches, I believe they will pick up a win in the process.  It would be a much needed win.

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