On a night that demanded an inspired performance, it just never felt like Fulham were able to get past strolling into first gear. That wasn’t for lack of effort, but it is getting to the point where every weakness this football club has, regardless of the opposition, gets magnified tenfold every fixture.
That’s what happened tonight at the John Smith’s stadium as Huddersfield Town claimed their first victory of the season. The lone goal came off of a second attempt of a cross coming from Chris Lowe in the 29th minute that was able to connect to Christopher Schindler and past an immovable Sergio Rico. It might have been the only tally of the night, but that was without some strong endeavor by a Huddersfield side that wanted to give the fans what they paid for. Phillip Billing smashed the first shot of the game from outside the penalty area off the crossbar to startle an always shaky Fulham backline. It was a sign of what type of shot selection Huddersfield were going to go for all evening, but it was also a sign of just how shambolic Fulham’s defense will continue to be.
If anything, Fulham’s new midfield seemed to be cut to ribbons way more than it should have been and that was why it made sense to see the Anguissa-Seri-Cairney midfield experiment done in just 45 minutes. Denis Odoi did have a shout for a possible penalty off of a free kick, but it was mostly an entanglement more than anything else.
On came Kevin McDonald to stem a tide where Fulham gave up seven shots to their own two. On stepped forward Cyrus Christie to bring some attacking endeavor instead of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who found the most creative ways to deliver the worst final balls imaginable. But once McDonald came off injured and was replaced by Stefan Johansen as the final substitution, Fulham’s attack finally came to life.
Ryan Sessegnon was able to get passed players and was a willing runner into the box. Aleksander Mitrovic’s presence was finally being felt as goal kicks were constantly being pinged to him. Lastly, Andre Schurrle did Andre Schurrle things: constantly hitting inaccurate long range efforts with the hope and prayer that one of them would go in.
There was one that almost did as the game dragged onto the 75th minute. From there, Mitrovic collected another Rico goal kick onto the path of Schurrle ever so beautifully for him to one-touch it passed a diving Jonas Lossl to tie the game. Alas! The goal was disallowed as Mitro started his run offsides. It was the correct decision as he was a small step passed his nearest defender back.
Otherwise, the final shot tally was 10-7 Huddersfield and 0.74-0.33 in expected goals. Aaron Mooy and Alex Pritchard were everywhere in attack and constantly gave Fulham fits whenever they had the ball at their feet. Even if his shots were as second rate as always, Steve Mounie put in a hard working shift that we’re missing from Mitrovic from minute one to the time he got subbed off. Until Fulham dramatically improve their execution and their style of play, they will continue to play these “fate worse than death” matches until they either get relegated or, somehow, find a way to avoid it. Because who on Earth know’s if they’ll ever get a win. They were able to limit Huddersfield to one goal, but for one of the worst attacks in recent Premier League history, you might as well give up three again. Oh, and should I mention Liverpool away is next on the calendar? This is not looking good at all to be a Fulham fan.