It was another win at the Cottage for the Whites on Saturday, against a Forest side that many were concerned would be rejuvenated by a new manager and a squad overhaul in the January window. Sam Crosby-Browne gives his thoughts on Fulham’s victory over the Tricky Trees.
I think it’s safe to say that Aitor Karanka and his squad weren’t expecting to travel to London and compete in the Marathon on Saturday, but that’s exactly what happened as Nottingham Forest were run ragged by the Whites to continue our very pleasing trend of bossing possession and taking all three points once again.
The players in Red had their heads tilted at the turf with hands on knees come the final whistle, and it wasn’t too difficult to tell that it was a combination of tiredness and conceding a 90th minute nail in the coffin that made the Forest players shape themselves this way.
Fulham passed and kept the ball fantastically all afternoon, despite the conditions, and the visitors had to wait patiently for their time to play (like the majority of our opponents). Constantly chasing shadows and concentrating hard on tracking the likes of Sess and Piazon in between their own limited opportunities with the ball is bound to cause fatigue towards the latter stages of the game.
We must be at a new level of proud as a fan base to see our team be so dominant against more than capable teams like Forest – scoring heaps of goals (22 in 8) and getting the results to reflect this dominance is just perfection. I was sat in the Johnny Haynes stand for the game and the amount of times I heard ‘well played’ or ‘fantastic football Fulham’ shouted so passionately was an absolute joy.
On the other hand, as always, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Whites on Saturday. Forest had their chances on the break and we could easily have found ourselves two nil down going into the break – ‘First Half Syndrome’ seems to be a very real problem for us at the moment and our luck will break against the stronger teams if this isn’t cured.
Furthermore, for whatever reason, Forest managed to figure out that we have a 17 year-old wonderkid playing for us and pressured him out of the game accordingly. Sess was limited to very little time on the ball and the Forest players did well to keep him away from any significant input over the course of the 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this tactic going away any time soon as opposition teams wise up and target him appropriately – it will be interesting to see how Sess deals with his new found attention.
Never mind though as a new knight has joined the table – arise Sir Matthew of Targett.
I’m sure it’s unanimously agreed amongst the fans that it was a very assured, confident and competitive full debut from Matt – his link up play with Sess on the left was great to see from two players who haven’t had much time to gel – and, aside from one defensive mishap, he has picked up our style of play very quickly, supported the attack well and tried at every opportunity to get the ball into dangerous positions.
Come the end of the campaign, I believe Targett has the potential to be classed as our most significant and contributive January recruit.
As other January recruits go, Mitrovic, unsurprisingly, looked a striker void of minutes and, although game time from the bench looks likely for the next few games, it’ll do his confidence a world of good just to get out on the pitch so no doubt we’re excited to see his full potential unfold.
Furthermore, it was a shame not to see Christie get his first run-out in the White shirt but the game didn’t call for his particular brand of contribution and I’m sure it won’t be too long before we can see how he works with his new teammates.
All in all, with this continued great run of results and a fixture against the misleading Bolton next weekend, Slavisa is managing to maintain an atmosphere of positivity throughout the Fulham family and this is absolutely paramount as we approach an unbelievably competitive run of fixtures starting against Villa in two weeks time.