Right. Here we go again.
Having read the internet I had expected to see an even game in which Brighton started well and Fulham finished well. People – and the manager, if I haven’t imagined it – seemed to think that Fulham deserved at least a point, but that feels iffy from here. Brighton dominated the first half and half of the second. True, Fulham came at them for the last 20, but that’s not enough, is it? No point in feeling hard done by here.
As the mirror said to the mirror, let’s reflect:
Item one: Bettinelli rolling the ball out to a colleague! Passing it to a colleague! It’s a small thing but, as noted, Lonergan spent the Cardiff game hoofing the ball to the Cardiff defence. Absolutely pointless surrender of possession and inexcusable in the modern game. Here either someone said something or Bettinelli just had a bit of common sense. Either way, hurray.
If someone had said to me beforehand that Brighton would score from our left flank I wouldn’t have been surprised. Sure enough, a nothing ball in behind and boom, 1-0. The trick here was that Voser was neither closing down the player nor playing as part of a back four, and Bodurov was in the middle, so that left a channel the size of the Suez Canal through which Brighton could operate without concern. FFS, etc. What kind of defending is that?
Otherwise everything’s generally better, with the caveat that Brighton have the ball all the time. Fulham generally seem geared up for some imaginary samurai counter-terror, except that we don’t have the players for that. Brighton on the ball, Fulham kind of compact behind it. All very odd.
The goal is excellent though. O’Hara torpedoes a ball towards the Brighton fans, but Matt Smith keeps it in and the ball comes back to Cairney, who swipes it home. A lovely goal.
The second half picked up somewhat but again, at home, you need more than 20 minutes of going for it. Still, some signs of positivity, for which we must be grateful.
Bettinelli – 6. Thought he did quite well. No chance with either goal. People say this all the time but here it’s legitimately true.
Richards – 5.5. Did okayish again. One hairy spell where Lua Lua seemed to have the beating of him and he might have done something in the buildup to the winning penalty, but more or less okay.
Hutchinson – 5.5. I thought he was playing quite well but that foul at the end can’t go unpunished here. Kit probably didn’t need to publicly criticise the tackle – it felt a bit “not my fault, media – blame the players” to me – but imagine how Roy would have felt about his centre-half doing that on the very edge of the box! I am growing to suspect that Hutchinson is a much better player than our trigger happy fans gave him credit for last year, but that he needs to restrain himself a bit. This isn’t the first time he’s made a tackle unbecoming of a centre-back at this level.
Bodurov – 5. Not a huge fan and not convinced he has a real claim on the shirt over the promising Burn. As a full international perhaps he might have been expected to organise things at the back a little, too.
Voser – 5. I’m not one to be negative – this site’s nearly 10 years old and I have tried to be positive for most of this time – but Voser just doesn’t look like he knows how to play left-back. I think he’s a reasonable footballer, but in this position with these colleagues he feels like an accident waiting to happen. Fair play to him for filling in, etc, but there might need to be a plan B before long.
O’Hara – 7. Instrumental in the exciting finish, which will live on in the minds of us all, and a far better showing than his Cardiff display. I like his attitude, I like how he wants the ball, and I like how he wants to make things happen. He isn’t perfect but he’s not meant to be. If anyone can rise Fulham above the Symons malaise it’s someone like this.
Christensen – 5.5. In and out. I thought he looked more dangerous against Cardiff.
Pringle – 4. I wonder if he was very much “the man” at his old club, and now he’s just one of many and struggling to find a role. Did basically nothing before being subbed for Kacaniklic (who fared no better). We were led to believe that he had a bit about him, but it’s devilishly difficult to see it at this point. I have no issue with giving him time (big of me!) as he looks capable, but he also looks more than a little lost.
Cairney – 6.5. Terrific goal and more signs of competence in possession. I think he’ll be a terrific player in time.
McCormack – 5. Not there yet is he?
Smith – 7. Could have had 5 on another day. Goals I mean, not marks out of 10. Gets good marks because we’re looking for ways to win football matches, and if you have a player capable of getting a handful of good chances a game then more often than not that’ll see you through. Smith does what he does, and of course there are limitations, but clearly he has something about him in the penalty box and must be a nightmare to mark.