Fulham's great run of form under caretaker manager Kit Symons continued Friday evening as the Cottagers disposed of Charlton 3-0 with two early first half goals and a third in the late stages of the affair. Captain Scott Parker opened the scoring in the sixth minute after he received a driven pass across the box from Ross McCormack and first timed it into the roof of the net. The offensive barrage continued, and just six minutes later Hugo Rodallega controlled a parried shot from Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson and netted his attempt back across the face of goal to double the Whites' lead. The Colombian would later cap off the game with a brace as he cut inside the box and curled the third goal into the back left corner in the last minute of normal time to seal the victory and clean sheet for Fulham, who now find themselves out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.
Although the scoreline shows a dominating performance from Fulham, it was far from that as Charlton were relentless in the offensive third for the majority of the second half. The Reds amassed 23 shots on the night to Fulham's 15, but to the visitor's dismay only managed to place three on target. There were stretches in the second half where Fulham had to defend for their lives, conceding corner upon corner, but the defense managed to hold strong and deter each attack that Charlton threw at them.
Hugo was the one to bag two goals, but my man of the match is Dan Burn as he was able to maintain order at the back while being subject to massive amounts of pressure from Charlton. He compiled 12 clearances, 5 interceptions, and won 75% of the aerial duels he was a part of. Recently, he has really solidified his position at center back under Kit Symons and is someone that Fulham can really depend on when strong defensive work is called for, such as the second half this evening.
If the attack can manage to replicate their first half form going forward, this team is capable of scoring plenty of goals. Although Ross McCormack hasn't scored as many as people expected he would up to this point, his creativity and passing alongside Rodallega and the crafty Ruiz is a force to be reckoned with when clicking on all cylinders. The defense still seems a bit shaky, but this evening's performance was encouraging as they showed a "bend but don't break" mentality in order to hold on to the clean sheet. Marcus Bettinelli continues to do a fine job in goal, although he would like to have a misjudged cross back that glanced off his fingertips, creating a nervy moment for us in the second half.
On a final note, It is refreshing to have a consistent lineup selection from Kit after enduring whatever you want to call Felix Magath's lineup tactics. The only questions that remain for me is what has happened to Chris David, who seemed to be one of the most anticipated players in the Fulham lineup coming into the season, and will we see the inclusion of Patrick Roberts more frequently? Kit has rarely used our young maestro since taking over the managerial role, but I think Patrick's abilities merit more time on the pitch than he is currently receiving.
All of that being said, it was a great night to be a Fulham fan as the Whites have climbed out of the relegation zone, a position we have not held very much over the past year. As always, COYW!