Fulham 2 Gas 2

by on 06/01/08 at 10:01 pm

7000 Gasheads take over at Craven Cottage. Fulhams home support was outnumbered by the travelling Gas in todays FA Cup match. The first time this has ever happened to a Premiership team. Outnumbered, outsung and nearly beaten on the pitch too.

Rovers lined up with Danny Coles as a surprise makeshift midfielder as news broke that Disley was sick. Honestly when we saw the teamsheet on the "giant" screen behind us, we worked out at least three different permutations that didn't feature Coles at Central Mid: Lescott, yes; Hinton, yes; Coles, No. Within five minutes the enormous and really very noisy indeed Gas support were cheering a goal from some nice midfield interchange by Danny Coles. The BBC web site says it was deflected, looked straight in to me though, but it was up the other end of the ground from me and I was busy jumping up and down and shouting.

Fulham looked good in midfield, going sideways. Danny Murphy looked good in midfield going forward. Up front they had some lump called Dempsey and Healy trying to play off him, which on the face of it would have made them somewhat predictable. Play off a target man eh? Never heard of that one in Div  1, 2 and 3. Of particular entertainment value was Right Back Volz, a man who's nickname must surely by "The Fireman", as everything he touched went out. Oh yeah, eventually Fulham started to threaten goal more and more as they retained posession and carried the ball forward (now that's shock tactics for the lower divisions). They had the ball in the net after ten minutes, before being pulled back for a foul by the ref, who to be honest, was pretty good today. This of course prematurely sparked off the Fulham goal celebration music (Song Two by Blur). For Shame!

Fulham threatened more, but Rovers were well organised but couldn't retain posession. After a scrappy piece of play near the byeline a cross came over (from Volz apparantley, well I never) that was nodded in by David Healy for their equaliser. Their fans went, err I suppose I could just about hear them over Song Two I guess. Half Time.

Fulhams away stand had the look of something that had been built cheaply and in a hurry, contrasting interestingly with the Cottage just to the right of it. The floor made a very pleasing sound when you stamped on it, but looked like it had been made out of some sort of pressed cardboard, while the framework looked like leftovers from a British Rail construction. The Carlsberg (no alternative) was £3.50 a pint. Hot dogs were £3.50 and pies, and you would only know they were pies because it said pie on the packet were £3. I guess they made a fair bit of profit on that, lets hope the Rovers learn something from this sort of thing and don't franchise out the concessions in the New Mem.

In the second half Fulham were much more in control, but rarely threatening goal. Dempsey is obviously a blunt instrument, but Healy is just not at the races with Fulham and looked liek a reasonable lower division forward. Danny Murphy was their best player by far, closely followed by Konchesky, who kept Pipe easily under control. Coles as a midfielder just about worked for this game, but I wouldn't want to see the experiment repeated. He tried his best to break up play, but wasn't able to carry the ball or break forward like Campbell and Disley. Lines however really looked the part of a ball distributing midfielder. If you were a scout watching the game then Lines is probably the player you would write up the best. He looked in tune with the speed of the play and moved the ball around very well. Igoe was only in the game in small parts, despite the right sided inadequacies Fulham were displaying. Jacobsen, got "involved" with some of the Fulham players, perhaps a little unneccesarily and earned himself a yellow when Healy went sprawling in the first half. I enjoyed that though, JJ has a lot of character and that's the sort of thing that's going to set him apart from other similar players. It was a shame Fabio Capello wasn't at the match as he would have seen another very good display from the better Lescott brother.

With Fulham swamping and controlling midfield, Rovers best hopes of action came from balls in to the channels for Williams to chase down, which he did with great enthusiasm and very well. Lambert played in his deeper role and looked for shorter balls to run on or slip through the channels. From one of these rare raids forward Williams was fouled and Chris Lines stepped up to take a free kick that was headed home sweetly by man of the match Craig Hinton.

Dr Dee in Hinton man of the match shock! Yes, he is not my favourite ever Rovers player, but today he did everything he possibly could to keep Fulham out. You might knock his ability, but never his commitment, he always seems to try his best no matter what and that counts for a lot in any team. Although watching the replays maybe he should have been tighter to Healy for their first goal. Elliot was equally as committed as Hinton, but if you had to criticise our defensive performance, then you would say we defended too deep and didn't press enough in midfield. Fulham thought that we were slow to organise as well and kept taking all their free kicks and throw ins very quickly. They were probably right, but we got away with it.

Hey, we're winning with twenty minutes to go. Fulham make two subs, Volz goes off (booo, I liked him) along with Smertin to be replaced by two players I have never heard of. Fulham immediately equalise. Of course it had to be Danny Murphy with a cracking 25 yarder after we were stretched and made uncomfortable at the back. Fulham did their best to get a winner, but the subs meant that they were now trying to beat us by getting the ball wide and getting early crosses in. Hmm, yes we have seen that before and know how to defend against it especially with three centre backs and four full backs on the pitch after CC replaced Igoe. Riggy came on for Williams, but didn't improve things up top.  Walker replaced  Lambo on 90 to run down the clock in injury time. Much cheering and singing ensues at the final whistle as we shuffle off home, happy with a replay and pleased with our day out.

Fulham have been dragged back to the Mem on Tuesday week in a competition they think of as irrelevant and to a game and a trip they do not want to take. If we can raise our game again and get Campbell or Disley back in midfield we have got more than just a chance of going forward to the fourth round.

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