After a long 2 week abscence of football, we returned to Craven Cottage with a hard-earned 2-1 win against Blackburn Rovers earlier today. And what a win it was.
The game got off to a good start, following a minute's applause for former player Graham Leggat, who died recently at the age of 81. We had the first attempt and goal of the game just four minutes in, when Ryan Tunnicliffe played in Moussa Dembele, who pulled back for Ross McCormack to slot the ball in, making it 1-0. The visitors bit back instantly, with Craig Conway's cross meting Jordan Rhodes, whose header shot over the bar. McCormack drew a save from Jason Steele as he controlled a cross from Tom Cairney, volleying toward goal, before Dembele turned a cross from the Scotsman just inches past the post, though it was offside.
Blackburn almost equalised in the 15th minute when Ben Marshall played Nathan Delfouneso in behind Team Ream, however Andy Lonergan was there to make a great save, denying the goal. We replied to this by almost getting a second goal in the 19th minute, when Dembele controlled a Jamie O'Hara pass on the edge of the box, before playing in McCormack, his shot fizzing across and just wide of goal. The guests kept their heads down and stayed in the game, this time Marshall's cross was too far forward for Delfouneso to find, before the winger dragged a shot just wide in the 27th minute. We doubled our advantage on the half an hour mark, when McCormack's cross was met by Tunnicliffe, whose header was saved by Steele, who also blocked Cairney's follow-up shot, but Dembele was there for the rebound to make it 2-0, scoring his first goal of the season. Lonergan pushed away a shot from Conway shortly after this, before doing the same with a long distance volley from Corry Evans. Grant Hanley headed over from the following corner. Our goalie kept playing at his best, somehow managing to make a one-handed save before saving a header from Marshall, supported by Evans, before the whistle was blown for halftime.
James Husband was treated on the sideline following a collision with Delfouneso, before Blackburn bought on Bengali-Fodé Koita to replace Delfouneso. We had the first chance of the second half when Dembele headed a cross from Ben Pringle, but it was saved easily by Steele. The Rovers retaliated by sending Conway up, who centered for Rhodes, his effort hitting the post. Rhodes then headed over, unmarked, as he met a cross from Koita, before the Frenchman nodded towards the arms of Lonergan. Marshall had a shot deflected off Ream as the visitors took possession. Lonergan made another stop before taking a poor goal kick, which lead to Danny Guthrie, who played the ball to Conway, when then cut Richards in, his effort turned away, again (!!!!!!!!!!) by Lonergan. Seriously, this man is unstoppable.
We got a chance on the hour mark, as Ryan Fredericks came on to replace Pringle, making his debut in a Fulham shirt. He moved to the right, while Cairney moved on the left. Nothing happened. Then Lonergan became stoppable. Husband apparently shoved Rhodes in the back while in the box, leading to a penalty. Rhodes sent our goalie the wrong way. Yay. 2-1. (We still won though)
Hanley was shown a yellow soon after slicing McCormack down, and Koita also went into the ref's book for an aerial collision with Richard Stearman, which was later shown to have been an elbow. We made a chance in the 73rd minute, but Cairney's effort following a cross from Husband was well blocked by Hanley. O'Hara was booked for tripping Marshall in the 76th, while Shane Duffy was shwon a yellow for his reaction to the tackle. We became a lot more nervous as Conway sliced over the bar, after Lonergan slapped away a long throw from Tommy Spurr. Dembele drew a save from Steele after cutting his way into the box, and the keeper managed to grab hold of a free kick from McCormack with just eight minutes left. Then, in what was probably the most controversial thing of the past few seasons (yes, worse than Felix Magath), Duffy headed a corner from Conway towards goal, before Jazz Richards cleared off the line. The kick hit Hanley, who was cleared off the line again, by O'Hara, but it was later showed in replays to be over the line. (apparently this was on Sky Sports 5 - damn you work!). Husband came off for Dan Burn in the 88th minute, while Ream moved to play left back. Koita smashed against the post, while Dembele saw his effort saved by Steele after some well-played ball control. Blackburn tried to get an equalizer but we held on to get the win.
Our next game is against Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday. Let's hope we get a win.