Fulham unable to rely on home comforts - Fulham 1-2 Swansea

Ian Walton

Goals from Danny Graham and Jonathan De Guzman add to the concern surrounding Martin Jol's future.

It's a strange way to think of it, but when the proposals for the Craven Cottage extension were put forward, the last thing on the minds of Fulham fans, and probably chairman Mohammed Al Fayed, was Championship football.

Now, though, it's a distinct possibility. 25,700 fans saw Fulham fall, at home, again, to Swansea City. This was by no means a shabby performance, though it was in places, but managers are judged by results and Martin Jol has little of those to fall back on.

The Whites have one win in twelve and bear no reflection to the free-scoring Fulham who topped the table earlier in the season. Here, against Swansea, a similarly depressing story unfolded.

Patches of fluent, attacking play were negated by chunks of defensive distress and calamitous goalkeeping but if we were decent at times, Jol still didn't help proceedings.

His removal of the ever-lively Kerim Frei, to be replaced by no other than Phillippe Senderos late in the game, was perhaps the point at which the Dutchman's sanity had to be questioned.

The idea was to move captain Brede Hangeland up front which, while creative, lacks a lot in judgement. Frei was arguably our most threatening player and Hangeland, though this is a lesser known fact, is actually a centre back.

Jol did make one good call, however, and that was the inclusion of Matthew Briggs at left back. His pace opened up a lot of space in the Swansea half and, for the tenacity to drop John Arne Riise, who has been beyond poor of late, Jol at least deserved some credit.

For, while there is nowhere to turn in this barren run beyond the manager's door, he still needs support, and the boos that rang from the stands did not help proceedings. Al Fayed is not a man to pull the trigger early and Jol should be given January to rebuild. It's not his fault the club have no central midfielders of note.

David Stockdale, who it could be said didn't grasp his opportunity with both hands, replaced the injured Mark Schwarzer in goal and he had little to do in the opening minutes as Fulham set their stall up early.

Bryan Ruiz won and took a free-kick, forcing a fine Gerhard Tremmell to punch it away for a throw-in. Dimitar Berbatov hit an acrobatic effort that flew just over the bar. Things were looking positive.

But then Swansea found their rhythm, hitting well on the break. Nathan Dyer in particular was testing the Fulham defence, and he had two decent efforts on goal.

Dyer would prove to be the root of Swansea's opener, too, hitting a shot that Stockdale could only parry into the path of Danny Graham. He was never going to miss.

It would be unfair to say it was against the run of play but to be a goal behind was certainly unfair on the home team. They soon picked themselves up, Ruiz again going close with another free-kick. It was clear that the Costa Rican was causing our Welsh visitors an array of problems and his return from injury was welcome. It could only solve one of myriad problems, though.

For a third time, a Ruiz free-kick went close just after the break but something more penetrative was required.

And, just as it looked as though Fulham could finally pierce Swansea's back line, a Stockdale error made the task of pulling back to parity twice as hard. He kicked a clearance into the back of Brede Hangeland and Jonathan De Guzman had a simple task in accepting his gift.

Sascha Riether, who put in yet another good shift, put in a fine ball to Berbatov, who teed for Ruiz. He struck the ball sweetly but Tremmel, potentially man of the match, saved superbly.

But the battle between Ruiz and Tremmel, no matter how audacious the latter had proved throughout the afternoon, was only going to be won by one person, and the midfielder eventually got his deserved goal.

A Frei cross was forced into the bar by Berbatov and in the ensuing melee, Ruiz struck against the shin of Riether to find the net.

Fulham had just over half an hour to find another goal but Swansea remained threatening on the counter. Frei tested Tremmel while Graham responded at the other end.

Berbatov had the ball in the back of the net on 69 minutes but was ruled offside, rightly. Hugo Rodallega came on, before Jol's most damning substitution to date. Some saw the change, Senderos for Frei, as a stroke of ingenuity but it merely highlighted the desperation.

Fulham were controlling the game, dictating the tempo and pushing men forward but still Swansea were creating the better chances. Stockdale pulled off two smart saves in the last few minutes but the front line weren't quite so intelligent.

Another defeat and another question we never thought we'd ask. Just where has the home form gone?

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