Slavisa Jokanovic only made two changes from the team that played last weekend. Ryan Fredericks started for Denis Odoi, who was suspended for accumulation. Odi being 1A and Fredericks 1B, this wasn’t much of a change. The other was Tim Ream coming in for Ragnar Sigurdsson. I think most Fulham fans would agree that Michael Madl is the superior defender, but Slavisa has preferred Ream all year. I believe this probably has to do with his ability on the ball, which is something he prefers from his central defenders.
The first 15 minutes were all Fulham. They created at least three big chances. Finally, Fredericks connected with Cairney on an overlap with the right back crossing and causing a Reading player to head the ball into his own goal. The pressure didn’t let up after scoring, on a similar play just a minute later Fulham came close to making it 2-0.
There was a lot worry in the first half about injuries. Fredericks, Stefan Johansen, and Ream all went down and listening to Gentleman Jim, I wasn’t sure if they would be able to continue.
Even though they only had one shot goal, that first half performance was about as good as Fulham had played this year. They out shot Reading 11-1, had 60% possession, and were right around the magic mark with 77% pass completion.
You might have expected Reading to come out strong in the first half, as teams down are wont to do. You would have been wrong. Fulham had three shots in the first five minutes and managed to score again on a superb strike from Chris Martin, who’s quietly become the teams leading scorer.
Things went from bad to worse for Reading as Danny Williams was given a straight red for stomping on Stefan Johansen. Gentleman Jim was unsure if it actually happened, and of course I couldn’t see it. I’m not sure it was deserved, but Fulham’s luck was turning around.
Fulham made it three when Aluko finally finished once of his superb movements. There was a moment of confusion has the referee thought Chris Martin may have touched the ball in an offside position, but after a deliberation with the assistant, the goal was awarded to Aluko, and I have to say he deserves it for all his hard work this year.
Just moments later Johansen made it four by finishing with the outside of his left foot. Every game he seems to improve. I wouldn’t have thought it when the move was made, but he’s turned into one of the most important transfers Fulham made this year.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Reading, Chris Martin was able to score on a free kick to make it 5-0, and the chants of we want six rang out audibly on the radio feed.
This was a dominating performance even before the red card. Fulham managed 15 shots before and 10 shots after. Reading only manged four attempts all game with only one being dangerous. This might have been the best Fulham have played all year and hopefully they can build on this going into the busy season.