First things first: the white shorts do look pretty good. They’re still morally incorrect, but a sartorial triumph. The players look like Imperial Stormtroopers who’ve hit the gym. The effect is quite imposing.
Not that it worked especially tonight. NSI Runavik organised themselves into a 4-1-4-1 formation which could also be described as 9-0-1. Which is not a criticism, more an observation that they were very keen not to get opened up, and to this end they succeeded. Fulham really struggled to get any rhythm going, only Murphy – constantly pushing the ball into dangerous areas – and the initially adventurous Briggs looked especially threatening. There seemed no obvious way through, and various Curse of the Wrong Trousers headlines fluttered through my head while I daydreamed the game away.
Then Fulham scored. Duff’s shot, looked like it flicked off Johnson on the way by, and in. Phew.
NSI Runavik (what’s the abbreviation? NSI? Runavik?) continued to play well though, their number six in the Makalele role especially impressive without the ball. His distribution looked ordinary but I admired his ability to shield his defence. Later in the half he belted a volley goalwards, too, and Schwarzer was relieved to see it drop the far side of the post. Alternatively, NSI Runavik found some joy over the top, but the lack of any real pace meant that they couldn’t take advantage of this.
Meanwhile Fulham continued to press forward. Duff grew in influence, Etuhu started to take control of the middle of the pitch, but the Zamora/Johnson combo wasn’t finding it easy to work openings (credit again to their markers).
The second half was a bit better. More of the same initially, then Simon Davies was floored in the area. The ref seemed uninterested at first, then pointed to the spot. Zamora seemed keen but Murphy took over, and slotted home nicely. 2-0, the game won.
A third arrived after some good interplay between Zamora and Johnson. Johnson, who had earlier missed having been put through by Murphy, squeezed through into the area and shot low and into the corner. It’s funny, I’m still not sure about AJ, but few players make me happier when they’ve scored. Delighted for him.
Steve Sidwell came on for Etuhu in a move most interesting for the revelation that our ginger dynamo has inherited John Paintsil’s number 4 shirt. Somehow it felt too soon. But as we know, things change. Shorts are not always going to be black, John Paintsil is gone. Such is the world we live in today.
(some photos tomorrow perhaps)