Fulham 6 – Birmingham City 2
Tuesday, January 18 2022
Blues took a thrashing at Craven Cottage last night against the continuing background of supporter protests against the current regime, #BSHLOUT.
On the field, Bowyer made just one change to the side that got a credible point at Deepdale. Ryan Woods, the creator of the equaliser from the bench, came into the side to give young Jordan James a well-earned break.
Like at Preston, the game featured a much better second-half performance from Blues. However, this time the game was already up before the team clicked into any kind of gear. By the time Blues got going, parachute-payment charged Fulham were already four goals to the good.
Whereas Saturday’s game had a change of personnel as an important element in the improved post-break performance, last night a change in the formation was the catalyst for the improved display, giving more ammunition to the critics of Bowyer’s 5-3-2 that he seems wedded to at the moment.
Blues held out for all of ten minutes before Roberts put into his own net. This followed the first of a series of crosses from wide as Fulham targeted the space behind our wing-backs, an easy tactic for players of the ability that they possess. Robinson, Wilson and Carvahlo all exploited the gaps.
Three goals in eight first-half minutes raised the fear of complete embarrassment as Fulham began to run riot, seemingly scoring every time they went forward.
The tide was stemmed just before half-time, when out of nowhere, Sunjic let rip from the edge of the box. If only his passing displayed such accuracy.
Cue the gallows humour from over 1,000 travelling Blues’ supporters as they claimed, ‘we’re going to win 5-4′. Not quite, but it was the stimulus for a much-improved performance in the second-half.
The away support had, as usual, been vociferous throughout, no matter what the state of the contest. But clearly mixed in with the usual KROs etc, were chants aimed against the owners, building on the momentum of the Twitter hashtag campaign and the efforts of Blues supporting journalists, Ian Danter in particular, to bring our plight to a wider audience.
We only lost the second half 2-1, an improvement.
“Immediately the players looked more comfortable and the spark came back into their game. “
Blues started the second half with a flat back four, in a 4-2-3-1, with Bela pushed further forward and the promising Hernandez wider. Immediately the players looked more comfortable and the spark came back into their game.
The ball was kept on the ground, Woods looking to spread the ball wide from deep to give the wingers a chance to have a go at their full-backs, Sunjic much happier to win the ball and give it a few feet to Woods, Gardner happier running forward and supporting the centre-forward, which is how he got his goal. The only strange thing was that having converted to using wingers, Jukey was quite quickly withdrawn to be replaced by Hogan.
Gardner’s goal made you wonder, for a split second, whether at 4-2 a dramatic comeback was unfurling before us. That lasted about a minute, as Fulham, stung back into action, strode up the other end and Carvalho scored again.
Fulham got a sixth in added-on time to complete the rout, but it hadn’t turned out as bad as it had threatened at half-time. There was even the feeling that the second half – a bit of fight, a bit of football, a good goal – gave rise to a bit of optimism. But it’s come to quite a state where a 6-2 defeat isn’t thought of as being too bad.
On to a series of games against the bottom three, which will define our season. The two main areas of interest are the formation – will Lee show more flexibility in his starting line-up? – and the progress with the campaign to oust the current owners. With TV games coming up, we have the ideal opportunity to spread our message wider and bring more pressure on the owners, #BSHLOUT.