Fulham began the busy festive period with a disappointing loss away at Bournemouth, as the Cottagers were outclassed for much of the match. Bournemouth scored early and late on, and despite Fulham creating some good chances and Marcus Betinelli saving a penalty, they failed to get anything from the match.
Bournemouth opened the scoring in the 9th minute through Brett Pitman. The Cherries had started the better side with bright passing and quick wing play, but the Fulham traveling support were in great spirits and drowned out the home fans for the whole match. However, they were momentarily silenced when Matt Richie whipped in a near post ball and Pitman flicked a header home. The home side pressed on after that, with the pacey Callum Wilson and Richie proving quite the handful for the White's backline. Betinelli was forced into a low save from Richie's free kick and then denied Wilson at close range to keep it 1-0. Fulham improved as the half wore on, with Lasse Vigen Christensen and Seko Fofana looking vibrant in the midfield.
The second half begun as the rain and wind intensified, adding to the aura of a proper English Boxing Day clash. Fulham started superbly, and could have easily equalized a couple minutes into the half. Ross McCormack cut in from the left side onto his right foot and slashed a shot that skidded across the far post, with Bryan Ruiz and Hugo Rodallega both just failing to a get a foot onto it. But right off the ensuing goal kick Bournemouth showed their danger. Christensen dove in on midfield and the Cherries attacked with purpose down the left wing, resulting in Wilson being dragged down by Grimmer in the box. Pitman stepped up to double Bournemouth's tally, but much to the delight of the 1000 plus Fulham fans, smashed it hard and low into right into Betinelli's chest. Fulham snaffled the ball clear and were urged on with a huge roar from the away allocation.
The Cottagers poured on the pressure in the coming minutes, with Scott Parker and Fofana going close from the outside of the box. A string of corners also failed to produce any goals, and as the clock ticked past 75 minutes Fulham's attacks petered out. Kit Symons threw on George Williams in the 66th minute in place of Christensen, and the teenager almost propelled Fulham to an equalizer twenty minutes later. He cut in from the left wing and looked to be tripped in the box, and the referee got Fulham hopes up by blowing his whistle. But it was only to book Williams for diving, a harsh verdict (among other suspect calls). With Fulham pressing for a late goal, Harry Arter slipped a low drive past Betinelli in the 90th minute, and sent Fulham home empty handed.
In all, Fulham were perhaps a tad unlucky not to get a point out of this one, but will come back to SW6 with some confidence. They came away to the league leaders and gave them a go, and if they can just find some better defending to add to the superb build up play and attack, there is no reason they can't make a serious play off push. Next match is a winnable one at home to Brighton on the 29th, let's grab the three points then. COYW!