Fulham’s late push for the playoffs has been heating up in recent weeks, and the Whites find themselves in the hallowed playoff spots with just three matches to go. Three season-defining matches await, and with fixtures against Huddersfield, Brentford, and Sheffield Wednesday, the Cottagers will need all the points they can get.
Ahead of the Huddersfield match, here’s an in-depth look into the abysmal penalties, refereeing mistakes, and late goals that have cost Fulham crucial points this season.
Fulham 1-2 QPR, October 1st 2016
The Cottagers fell in crushing fashion in this West London Derby, missing two crucial penalties en route to a 2-1 home defeat. Tom Cairney missed the Whites’ first penalty with the match scoreless, and Sone Aluko smacked his effort off the post in the 91st minute with Rangers leading 2-1. If the Whites had managed to convert both penalties, the match would have been won.
Fulham 1-2 Brighton, January 1st 2017
In a gutsy New Year’s Day performance against the league leaders, Fulham deserved a point yet were once again robbed by a missed penalty. This time it was Stefan Johansen’s turn to miss a spot-kick, as the Norwegian saw his shot saved by former Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale in the opening quarter-hour. Although Fulham did go ahead through Lucas Piazon, Brighton scored two late goals to grab a 2-1 win.
QPR 1-1 Fulham, January 21st 2017
Fulham had miraculously converted a penalty in the previous week’s 2-0 victory over Barnsley, and just six minutes in they had a chance to put their woes behind them at Loftus Road. Sone Aluko bamboozled the QPR defence and was felled in the box, and up stepped Chris Martin, penalty hero of just seven days earlier. Yet Martin failed to beat Smithies with a weak shot, and Fulham could only muster a draw in the derby.
Reading 1-0 Fulham, January 24th 2017
Just three days later, Fulham’s penalty hoodoo struck yet again in soul-crushing fashion. Fulham were 1-0 down away to Reading, yet were awarded a stoppage time penalty at the death. It was a lifeline to the Whites, which Chris Martin promptly blasted straight at Ali Al-Habsi. Another missed penalty, another damaging defeat that was easily avoidable.
Conceding late goals:
Leeds 1-1 Fulham, August 16th 2016
Fulham dominated Leeds in an early-season encounter away at Elland Road, and deservedly went up 1-0 in the 77th minute. Tom Cairney curled in a wonder strike that looked set to be the winner, but Leeds equalized in the 93rd minute to deny Fulham all three points.
Disgraceful refereeing decisions
Fulham 1-1 Leeds, March 7th 2017
Fulham were robbed of a clear cut goal scored by Neeskens Kebano due to a lack of goal-line technology employed by the Championship. Kebano struck a lovely rip off the bottom of the crossbar, and the ball clearly bounced well past the goal-line before bouncing out. Video replays showed the shot should have been awarded a goal, but the referees decided to inexplicably give nothing to Fulham. It was a horrendous decision that could cost the Whites dearly against their fellow rivals for sixth place.
In conclusion, Fulham have dropped a total of 11 points this season from entirely avoidable situations. Missed penalties alone have seven points; if the Whites had converted all of those spot-kicks, the playoff spots would have been all but assured by now.
Fulham now have to hope they can hang on to sixth position and get a chance to perform in the playoffs come late May. And if they make it to Wembley and the score is tied after extra time... may the footballing gods help us.