Somehow, all things at Fulham have gone from dark and miserable to as sunny as the South Coast sky. Sure, this team has been relegated for a while now, but Scott Parker has this team fighting, believing in themselves, and working together. That is something you could not say at all under Slavisa Jokanovic, and especially not under Claudio Ranieri. And as a result, Fulham got their first away win of the season.
But this all didn’t happen without dealing with a ton of adversity. In fact, it was Bournemouth that was on such an offensive to start the contest that they had the first nine shots all in the space of 20 minutes. Those nine markers resulted in 1.56 expected goals and if it wasn’t for Sergio Rico’s heroics (you read it correctly, SERGIO RICO’S HEROICS!!!), Fulham would have been in a world of trouble. Really too, Joshua King should have done much better with his attempt in the 14th minute to put Bournemouth in front.
But once Fulham found their footing, they were able to defend Bournemouth soundly and get their attacking game going themselves. Fulham’s corner kick plays were working quite well and were generating good chances towards Artur Boruc. Along with that, Jean Michael Seri was doing a solid job pinging the ball around in place of a soon-to-be father Tom Cairney. Ryan Sessegnon also continued to be immense running rings past Nathan Aké and continuing to prove that he’s already Premier League ready without the goals and assists. Lastly, Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa is finally developing into the holding midfielder we knew he could be when he was brought in from Marseille. By far, his progression is Scott Parker’s greatest accomplishment as a manager.
By the 52nd minute, Fulham got their just reward for all their efforts. Admittedly, Bournemouth were bitten with some bad luck with injuries to their back four. Right back Adam Smith went down during the warmups and his substitute Junior Stanislas went down after injuring himself while attempting a free kick. This left little used 22-year old Jack Simpson to come in his place and it was as bad as it could get for the Cherries.
Surely enough, Simpson just couldn’t help but stick a leg out in the penalty area for Aleksander Mitrovic to trip on and was rightfully awarded a spot kick. Without a disgruntled teammate to deal with, Mitrovic only needed to worry about getting the job done himself and he was able to calmly put it the opposite direction of where Boruc went to make it 1-0. The goal sent a sun-drenched away support to delirium as they all looked as if they were all on summer holiday party.
Now Bournemouth weren’t going away quietly whatsoever. In particular, Ryan Fraser was everywhere and was the one-man wrecking crew In Bournemouth’s attack. Fortunately, nothing went past Rico tonight and his bravery and aggression in front of goal was rewarded with his second clean sheet. He was able to deny Fraser and Calum Wilson any clear cut chances towards goal and Bournemouth were just not able to get anything off as a result. Rico has had his critics all season, as have the other two goalkeepers Fulham have used, but this was his one match where he was finally able to show his full worth.
Now once again, the opposition was not liking how it seemed like all the refereeing decisions went Fulham’s way, but bluntly, it’s been too long for having that luck turn the other way around. It was once again another full performance by the team from the goalkeeper out. Every player looks to be contributing and it is genuinely difficult to see how Fulham can lose now. If only this fight started earlier. Regardless, it is nice to finally see things come to fruition after all looked completely lost.