Reading 3-3 Fulham

Helter skelter nonsense in which Fulham played very well for the most part but failed to take all the points because they conceded three times to a more than ordinary Reading team.

Happily a dowdy deficit was overturned by our own cause celebre Bryan Ruiz, who transformed the game as soon as he got on the pitch. It was as if someone had finally remembered where they’d left the front door key and all of a sudden everyone could go inside and have a cup of tea.

The equaliser was probably Ruiz’s third best Fulham goal yet still better than most players could conceive of scoring. Predatory buildup work from a now incisive Fulham then Ruiz whacked an absolute corker against the grain into the top corner.

Then he set up Chris Baird’s go ahead header, a nice corner headed in near post in pleasing style. BUT Baird injured himself just before this and the game descended into messiness. There were 22 players out there so you can’t blame this on the absence of one man, but Baird is as clever a footballer as he is skilfull, and somehow things were worse without him.

Reading equalised messily (as they would again not long after), Berbatov – a fiery game from him – put Fulham ahead again, then Reading bundled in another to make it 3-3. It felt like golden era Fulham, where goals flew in all over the place and Johnny Haynes must have had entirely mixed feelings about his current stationing in life.

Ultimately you’d have to be a bit grumpy to not enjoy what Martin Jol’s team are doing. In the past we have failed to beat equally poor sides so the fact that we can draw away from home with such verve must be seen as progress of sorts.

9 thoughts on “Reading 3-3 Fulham

  1. Great value for money today but our set piece defending is a real problem. We used to be so well organised in set pieces and its not as if the 3 main men Schwarzer, Hangeland and Hughes have changed since Roy’s days…

    Do we have a defence coach? Jol said the other week that the team had been practicing set piece defending since the draw against Saints but doesn’t look like its helped!

  2. What I cannot fathom is that at home we have looked much more Roy era defensively solid (three clean sheets and a generally good defensive Performance against the champions) yet away we are a defensive shambles. Last season we were defensively excellent away but terrible up front. This season the scale has almost tipped too far the other way.

    Still, at least away games are entertaining. If you can score away from home you always have a good shot at some points, especially if you unnerve the home team.

  3. If we had taken the full six points from Southampton and Reading, we’d be 4th position in the table… think about that for a moment….

    now let it go…

    and we’re back… to 6th.

    How times have changed.

  4. According to th Guardian pre-match Baird had more interceptions per 90 mins (5) than any other player in the league. He was definitely missed. But s Alex says this was really about poor set piece defending. Fix that and we wouldve won easily

  5. “Shocking” is a word that is thrown about too lightly, but we have conceded a shocking number of goals off set pieces this year, and it’s directly cost us a minimum of 4 points. (If we had those, we’d have an incredible 18 through 9 games.) Well, it’s a problem, but it’s hopefully a discrete one, and so many other things seem to be going well. We can always hope this particular aspect of play improves.

    How many minutes have Ruiz and Berbatov been on the pitch together this year? It was utter magic today, and I realized that in part it’s because the threat of Berbatov means that teams can’t just swarm Ruiz on the ball, which he is otherwise vulnerable to. Berbatov keeps them honest, and the result was Reading being carved open for most of the second half. They both looked incredible.

    I’m still not sure what to make about Richardson on the left – part of me prefers keeping Kacaniclic out there, but I think that’s just the part of me that’s in love with Kacaniclic. Rodallega is a more interesting case — Jol clearly likes and is willing to play him anywhere he can in order to fit him into the starting XI. But at this point I think he’s the 3rd option on the right, the 2nd or 3rd option on the left, and can’t start over Berbatov or Ruiz in the middle. He does work hard, though.

    But overall, I came away from this ludicrous game feeling happy. Last year we lost the stomach-punch games, this year they’ve mostly been draws. Reading is pretty bad, but given our injuries (and a squad that looks, when healthy, much deeper than I thought it was) we haven’t really settled on a starting XI. If this is the baseline, it’s a good one.

    Final thought – I’m intrigued by Petric’s personality. I follow a number of these guys on twitter and instagram (for sheer hilarity, footballer instagram can’t be equaled), and it seems that everybody loves Petric. He took them fishing when they were in Europe. He seems -very- supportive of Ruiz on twitter, despite the fact that they are probably competing for the same starting spot. Overall, he seems like a pretty nice guy.

  6. Ruiz hit that ball so hard that the keeper basically didn’t know what was going on until it was already in the net. I’m pretty sure I heard the ‘thump’ of the impact on his foot from the away end. Wonderful.

    I’m loving the way we’re playing and the riches in attacking talent we now have. And it goes without saying that it’s far preferable to draw away games 2-2 and 3-3 than bloody 0-0 every time.

    But. It’s a serious achilles heel if these relegation threatened teams have the get-out-clause route to a goal of just loading the box and lumping the ball in there. Schwarzer is definitely struggling – look at him for that third goal, he is completely panicking, makes no decisive action at all and may as well not be there. Against Southampton in the first half, it honestly seemed as if they would score from every set piece and we could easily have been 3-0 down (dubiously disallowed goal, off-the-line clearance by Hughes).

    Hangeland is not at his best either but I wonder if he and Hughes are no longer feeling as comfortable with MS behind them (in those situations at least).

    Jol has been brave so far in getting rid of pillars like Zamora and Murphy when he could smell that their time was up. Time to give Stockdale go?

    1. I was thinking that myself Jamie. From set pieces the keeper really has to be more decisive. It pains me to say it, but I would also like to see Stockdale given a go.

    2. Yeah, I agree. The San Jose Earthquakes (who do little else but pound high balls into the box, and have won the MLS Supporters’ Shield doing so) would score about 5 goals against us right now.

      On the last goal, Diarra was marking, Robson-Kanu, who muscled him away and then jumped over him. After the goal, the camera lingered on Schwarzer, but you could see Diarra standing off to the side dejected, like a man wondering where his youth had gone.

  7. Only saw the MOTD version, but I agree with much of the above.

    The commentators words before their third goal, “practically every player is in or around the six yard box” had me yelling “then why haven’t we we got a defender on each post?” It would have prevented the goal.

    Lets hope that yesterday signals the start of Bryan Ruiz’s renaissance. And is Chris Baird emerging as a centre midfielder of the quality that Jol is happy with as a long term first choice?

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