Fulham lined up a little different with Sone Aluko playing wide and Tom Cairney slotting into the middle. Of course none of that made any difference when Tim Ream gave away the ball and allowed Barnsley to finish a chance in the 4th minute.
The game quickly settled into a familiar pattern for Fulham. Loads of possession, some dangerous passes, threatening corners, and an inability to create a final product.
It took until the 37th minute until Lucas Piazon was finally able to capitalize on all the possession that Fulham had to equalize the game at 1-1.
Of course Fulham being Fulham they gave up a second just a few minutes later when there was another give away and the Barnsley player beat an offside trap (though if you listen to Gentleman Jim it might not have beat the trap).
Just when you think Fulham was going to be Fulham, Sone Aluko equalized just seconds later. Remember how we said that both Fulham’s offense and defense were probably going to regress to the mean?
At the end of the first half, you’d be hard pressed to figure the game was 2-2. Fulham was ahead in most predictive stats, and very much ahead on expected goals.
Half time dashboard for the Championship: Newcastle and Norwich look to be in control pic.twitter.com/TJsHDE2Twq— Ben Mayhew (@experimental361) October 15, 2016
The first half opened and within a minute Scott Malone either had a bad cross or an amazing shot that went into the top corner to make it 3-2 Fulham.
It’s hard to tell when you’ve only got audio, but the referee really seemed to lose control of the match in about the 55th minute. Gentleman Jim was apoplectic. The official seemed to try to take control back by issuing a time wasting yellow card to Button in the 61st minute. I’m not sure that’s really an effective strategy.
Chris Martin finally got a goal for Fulham as he made it 4-2 off a Malone cross in the 65th minute. I would like to take this opportunity to state that the Jazz Richards for Scott Malone swap was one of the best pieces of business the club has ever done.
It wasn’t surprising with the loss of control the ref had.
Someone is gonna get sent off in this game...— Ivan Berry (@Ivan_berry) October 15, 2016
The prediction came true when Stephen Cowen had a horror tackle on Scott Parker that earned a straight red. At this point I just wanted Fulham to kick the ball around for 20 minutes and go home with no one getting hurt.
Fulham nearly made it five in the 75th minute but Aluko couldn’t finish the chance set up by Parker to complete his brace.
Scott Malone almost made it five again in the 80th minute when he volleyed a shot just over the bar. It’s amazing how quickly left back went from one of the biggest weaknesses of the club to the biggest strengths.
Matt Smith came on for Chris Martin in extra time. For some reason Jokanovic went nuts when the change was made. Did he want someone else taken off? Was he mad about how long it took to get him on? I’m not really sure, it will be interesting to find out.
- If Fulham want to keep the fans happy after launching their pay service, they need to do better with the quality. You could hear the Barnsley play by play in the background through most of the match. To make matters worse, the feed was sometimes unlistenable due to the static and feedback.
- Is it wrong to to criticize the referee when you can’t see the match? I don’t know, but it certainly sounded like he was pretty bad. Missed cards, soft cards, confusing calls, players (and fans) just want consistency. It didn’t sound like we had it at all.
- We might have seen the real Fulham today. A mediocre to bad defense (that has gotten lucky in early games) and a good to great attack (that had gotten unlucky in early games). Hopefully Slavisa can fix the defense, or it improves naturally with health.
- Hopefully Tom Cairney’s injury isn’t too bad. He’s not just the favorite player of little kids, I’m quite fond of him too.
- Games are coming fast and furious once again. We’re getting ready to do this all again on Tuesday as we host Norwich.