With all the injuries that Fulham had coming into this fixture, you would think coming away with any points in the Championship table would be an accomplishment. Welp, Slavisa Jokanovic’s men did that with a 1-1 draw against a Cardiff City side hoping to start the season with six wins in a row. That being said, the game felt more like a defeat considering the way the game played out.
Both halves felt like the exact same replicas where Cardiff will come off the blocks firing before Fulham gradually built momentum and generated some good flowing football themselves. Despite not scoring, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing continued his strong performances in the beginning of the season with some strong runs down the left flank and really caused havoc in Fulham’s back four. That being said, Floyd Ayite returned from injury and performed well leading the attacking trio with Ryan Sessegnon and newcomer Yoann Mollo.
Mollo himself showed great drive and determination and could be a fan favorite for the club if he can continue his keep his infamous temper in check. This game did have plenty of chaos with questionable refereeing decisions and hard collisions coming everywhere. After all, Fulham is many experts’ preseason favorites to win the Championship while Cardiff is the team proving their fast start was not just a one-off situation. There was plenty at stake in this game.
The first half brought a few solid chances, but it was really the second half where the game opened up and the deadlock was broken. With Tom Cairney still recovering from injury, it was up to Stefan Johansen to come out of his shell and be the midfield fulcrum to spring Fulham’s attack. And boy did he ever by playing possibly his best game of the season. His best contribution led to him rounding Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge only for his shot to be blocked by fullback Joe Bennett before going into the back of the net.
Ayite went on to have a game-best three shots with his effort hitting the post from just outside the penalty area. It took until the 75th minute and contributions from Jokanovic’s substitutes to score the first goal of the game. Oliver Norwood and Aboubakar Kamara linked up well to set up the through ball pass to Ayite after cutting through the center of defense. His shot may have been saved by Etheridge, but Sessegnon was not that far away to collect the rebound and open his scoring account this season. At 17 years old, the attacking midfield/fullback hybrid already has six goals in 2,141 career minutes in the Championship. There’s a reason why top tier Premier League clubs are scouting him.
But just when you thought Fulham grabbed the three points of this game, Cardiff substitute Danny Ward put an end to that dream by getting on the end of a Liam Feeney cross in the 83rd minute. Ward beat his defender clean to get a strong header past Fulham keeper David Button. Beyond a prayer shot by Feeney that hit the crossbar, no other bit of play was enough to give any side the victory.
Both sides came away with valuable points today. Cardiff can still lay claim to being top of the Championship. Fulham can still stay within touching distance of promotion while having a good chunk of their squad still not 100% match fit. This was the start of six games in 20 days for the Cottagers and any bit of positivity is required for such an injury ravaged team. Let’s see if they can continue that momentum against a downtrodden Hull City side on Wednesday.