As you know, Pete Sixsmith didn’t make this game. That’s not a problem, however, as Bob Chapman made the trip and once again steps into the breech with a fine account of what would have been a very decent day in London, had there been a very decent referee at Craven Cottage.
Now that I have retired from teaching I never have to put up with the added stress of having to get away from school on time for an important evening match. Not that this was an important match; but I know that had I still been teaching, the kids would have had an early end to the lesson, chairs would have been up with 5 minutes to go and I would have been first in the queue to get out of the door when the bell went. My sprinting abilities were renowned at school. On match day I was always first out of the building and was invariably 20 miles up the A1 before the last school bus had departed!
For this fixture I had thought about spending the day in London. However with rain forecast all day I thought why bother and instead I set off in the early afternoon. I made my way with camera to Clapham Junction to photograph a Stanier Black Five 45212 returning The Great Britain back to Victoria. This journey is a 9 day rail trip around the UK hauled by 8 different steam locomotives. All that for a little under £3000. Surely I thought, that would have been a better investment for me, rather than having followed Sunderland this last season.
With my steam engine fix catered for I headed to Smithfield Market to meet up with Mick who currently works nearby. We met in the Hand and Shears where I was introduced to John, Mick’s work colleague. John is Rio Ferdinand’s dog sitter! We were all in agreement as to what a great player Rio was and equally how his younger brother was less so. Mick and I well remember a truly awful Anton shocker against Fulham in December 2009.
We then moved on to the Rising Sun. Here we explored all the options of getting to Putney Bridge. Long tube journeys with a full bladder are not pleasant. There is nothing worse than having to break your journey, getting back up to street level to empty the problem organ! From Farringdon we opted for the Circle Line to Edgware Road and then the District Line to our destination. It was touch and go, but Mick and I both made it to The Eight Bells at Putney Bridge, our final port of call.
Over the years our record at Craven Cottage is not too bad. With the pressure off us and most certainly on them I thought we had every chance of getting something from the game. Having gone over 20 games unbeaten since our victory at the SOL in December, Fulham seemed quite confident on the ball, but there was no final product. We were certainly competing, looked solid at the back and Fletcher was proving an effective outlet up front on his own.
We took the lead in the 28th minute. A long ball was won in the air by Fletcher who found Asoro.
He turned his man, made some ground and then drove his shot inside the post from outside the D. A super strike from a player who I fear will not be with us next season. You win some, you lose some: we always seem to lose our very best players.
We should then have gone further ahead when Ejaria was upended just inside the box. As I was watching from the other end I couldn’t be sure, but those watching at home on TV were all texting to say it was a blatant spot kick. Such is our luck this season that they immediately went up the other end and duly equalised through Plazon. It was one of those goals caused simply by our own misfortune and bad luck. The half should have ended with us 2 goals to the good and in control of the game.
The second half was much the same, with Fulham being roared on by the clapper wielding hordes. Only joking, we were making more noise than that lot and we had nothing but pride to play for. They had plenty of possession and looked pretty on the ball but were flattering to deceive. We looked solid and you knew that the next side to score would take all the points. Fortunately for them Mitrovic scored that winner in an offside position from a set piece. We brought on McManaman and Maja in an attempt to get something, but once again we went down 2-1 in successive matches having taken the lead. Good sides don’t lose from winning leads very often. Sadly as we all know we are not a good side this season.
Hopefully, with takeover rumours in the air that will change next season?