Sunday, April 27, 2008

Huge Win for Fulham

Amazing game, now that I have finally seen it. I can't believe the Whites were able to take all three points on the road against Manchester City. First, to come from 2-0 down after a somewhat dismal first half. To be honest, the season looked over in the first half. Fulham appeared lost, unorganized and beaten all over the field.

The start of the second half looked like an entirely different match. What ever Roy Hodgson said at halftime apparently worked. Fulham were attacking the ball, looked a much more active and working harder. The only question was whether there was enought time.

Around the 66th minute, The eventual hero of the match Diomansy Kamara came on to replace David Healy. The move for more offensive effort by Hodgson was evident. Kamara has had impact over the past several matches in the attacking thrid, and has scored goals as well. Three minutes later, Hodgson's move looked like a stroke of genius as Kamara put on in the net on from a position with his back to the goal. With Kamara's goal Fulham seemed to come to life and effort at an equalizer became almost frantic.

Ten minutes later, left back Paul Konchesky sent a ball into the middle toward Simon Davies who was brought down in the box and a penalty awarded. Danny Murphy took the spot shot but Manchester keeper Joe Hart (who it must be admitted had a very good game) guessed right, but Murphy was able to put the rebound into the twine. In ten short minutes, Fulham had gone from 2 down to level. A point on the road at this stage would have been terrific. Fulham was frantic though, not content to take the point and run the risk of having their relegation destiny in other club's hands.

The climax of the match came as Manchester's Benjani and Petrov each had chances to score. The Whites were swarming attempting to get another goal and two more points. The fourth official indicated three minutes of extra time. Literally in the last minute, Kamara blazed in behind the Manchester back line, running on fresh legs one on one with Hart and Kamara made it look like he was in a training session and slotted the ball into the net. The whites and the few hundred Fulham fans went nuts amid the stunned silence at City of Manchester Stadium as Fulham had pulled off a stunning upset in the final 23 minutes of the match.

Literally after the restart the final whistle was blown.

The win puts Fulham one win from safety on goal differential. To be safe, Fulham will have to win out, with matches remaining againt Birmingham City next week ( a six point match) and away at Portsmouth.

Fulham sit two points behind Birmingham and three behind Reading. Reading earned a draw yesterday against Wigan, giving them one more point, as did Birmingham against Liverpool. But the draws left the goal differentials for those teams the same. A win next week agains Birmingham and a loss by Reading would put Fulham into safety on goal differential over Reading.

Next week, Reading faces Tottenham at home.

The final week's matches has Fulham away at Portsmouth, Reading away at Derby County and Birmingham hosting Blackburn.

Three days after their match with Portsmouth, Pompey will play in the FA Cup final against Cardiff City. Reading has the easiest match on paper, but Derby has played pretty well of late because they have nothing to lose as a team, but everything to gain as individual players looking for Premier League employment next season. Derby probably wouldn't mind having Reading join them in relegation thanks to their own effort.

Fulham have their destiny in their own hands to a certain extent, by winning they give themselves a chance to remain in the Premier League. But they also need the help of Tottenham, Blackburn and Derby County. Should be an intersting two weeks.

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