Even with the good vibes coming from the unveiling of the George Cohen statue and the good vibes coming from Fulham’s recent history in the West London Derby with Queens Park Rangers, it was quite clear the pregame enthusiasm from both sets of fans matched that of the weather: dreary and miserable. Fulham haven’t won a game since before the previous international break. Meanwhile, QPR manager Jimmy Flloyd Hasselbaink was among the many that have been recently caught being interviewed by undercover reporters about getting around third party ownership rules. Both sides were sick and tired of becoming mid-table championship sides and were beyond desperate for this game to be the beginning of something better.
In five minutes, it seemed like that would be the case for Fulham as Steven Caulker brought down Ragnur Siggurdson for a penalty inside the box. Sadly, like their EFL Cup defeat to Bristol City, Tom Cairney’s shot lacked any quality to be converted his attempt was palmed away by Alex Smithies.
You would like to think that momentum is a myth after such misery and Fulham did seem to create some chances a handful of minutes afterwards. Unfortunately, QPR were the first side on the scoreboard thanks to a deflected shot by Conor Washington. David Button did seem to get a hand on it but was unable to keep it out of goal.
To Fulham’s credit, they kept on pushing forward with a head of steam with multiple attempts at goal that made you wonder how it stayed 1-0 at the half. Among the biggest highlights during that time period was Lucas Piazon went one-v-one with the keeper and decided to give the ball to Chris Martin, except the pass was received too awkwardly for Martin to aim it towards the target, let alone score. Another one included a bursting run by Sone Aluko that only resulted in a shot wide of the target.
It was quite inconceivable how Fulham weren’t scoring in the first half. During that time, Fulham racked up 13 total shots, usually the average output of any championship side for the full 90 minutes, but only two of them were on target.
Finally, just as soon as the second half started, we got an equalizer. Scott Parker placed a floating ball towards Smithies that was awkwardly batted down and Tim Ream took advantage from six yards out.
Fulham continued to attack the Hammersmith End and could have gone 2-1 up if not for Steven Caulker clearing another perfectly placed ball by Parker off the line. Matt Smith came on for the still-unlucky Martin and showed his industrious ways, heading the ball down towards Aluko who wasn’t able to hit it on target.
Suddenly, QPR remembered what it was like to have the ball at their feet and began to sustain some pressure once Idrissa Sylla and Olamide Shodipo came on as substitutes, even if some of the shots were not threatening for David Button just yet.
As the clock struck 70 minutes, Fulham retook control of the game and seemed to finally have the opportunities to take the lead. Sadly, substitute Neeskans Kebano couldn’t connect on a perfectly placed cross by Scott Malone that came from an industrious run by Parker. Somewhere nearby the River Thames, there’s a fountain of youth the 36-year old Parker keeps using. The potion must have worn off, however, in the 80th minute as he had to be substituted due to a possible injury. As a result, the tide turned once again.
QPR would grab the game by the horns and never let go as the last ten minutes started with an awkward take by David Button from a cross in the penalty area. Tim Ream even struggled to get it clear afterwards and Shodipo could have drawn a penalty for the away side if not for the fact that referee Lee Mason noticed that he was clearly diving. Next, Karl Henry floated a nice free kick after Shodipo drew a yellow card on Tim Ream from committing the same act outside the penalty area. The ball was perfectly placed for Nedum Onuoha only for him to miss his attempt just over the crossbar.
Finally, the dagger. A turnover at midfield by Fulham resulted in having Tjaronn Cherry cross the ball to an unmarked Sylla who headed it passed Button.
It looked like it was all done and dusted, until Onuoha decided to put a foot right at Jozabed’s face in the penalty area at the tail end of stoppage time. Fulham got the break of their early season, or so we thought. You know a club’s confidence in taking penalties is shattered when you are switching takers and this time it was Sone Aluko’s turn to give it a shot with Fulham FC radio commentator Gentleman Jim hinting that Denis Odoi might have wanted to give it a crack. Surely enough, Aluko placed his shot at the post and that was all she wrote.
2-1 QPR. Pain. Misery. Confidence shattered.
It was a month ago that Fulham were sitting second in the table and looking like they would be a fun, all out attacking side that would get promoted back to the Premier League before the parachute payments ran out. Now, they could be sitting as low as 16th by the end of the weekend. Football is the worst.
Man of the Match: Scott Parker