Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fulham Leaves Ewood Park with A Point

Although not a win, the Cottagers escape the monsoon at Ewood Park with a point agiainst the Blackburn Rovers. In a torrential rain for the entire first half, Jimmy Bullard's free kick in the 88th minutes salvaged a crucial result to keep the Cottagers close to escaping the relegation zone.

An interesting fact from yesterday's game. Both teams fielded American goalkeepers, with the long solid Brad Friedel making something like is 120th consecutive start for the Rovers and American journeyman keeper Kasey Keller minding the net for Fulham. Also on the field for Fulham were Eddie Johnson and Fulham stalwart Clint Dempsey in midfield. I just think it is cool.

Fulham sit with 20 points in the league table. Bolton Wanderers are sitting five points ahead with a game in hand. Fulham have nine matches remaining, including fixtures against against No. 15 Newcastle (28 points) in two weeks, No. 20 Derby County (10 points) in three weeks, No. 16 Sunderland (27 points) on April 5, No. 14 Reading (28 points) on April 12 and No. 17 Birmingham (26 points) on May 3. Tougher matches include Everton (next week), Liverpool and Manchester City as well. The most important thing for Fulham now is to get results, even one point is likely to help. The schedules of most of the bottom dwellers include more matches with teams in the upper half of the table, thereby limiting the number of "six point" matches, where one team can really put some distance between themselves and the drop zone. A result against Everton and taking wins or draws against Newcastle, Derby and Sunderland in the next month will likely put the Cottagers out of the drop zone. But that is a big if since Fulham have been unable all season to link more than three results together all season and have never had back to back wins. But with the end of premiership season fast approaching, results are a must and wins matter more than ever.

Fulham (weather aside) played well in bursts yesterday with Bullard in particularly looking well. Eddie Johnson, in his third appearence has to settle down quicker in the match, but there were times where his speed proved useful. He needs to spend more time fighting for the ball rather than flopping to teh ground. His acting skills might have passed muster in front of less that world class referees in the MLS, but the Premiership employs some of the best referees in the world and referee Mike Riley simply weren't buying his performance yesterday. Perhaps the most impressive play came from Defender Paul Konchesky who must operate on some mythical energy source because he prowled the left side both on attack lobbing services in from the flanks and running back to stop the Rovers' attack on defense.

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