Sam Crosby-Browne takes a look back at the Bolton game in the wider context and has a ponder on what Fulham need to do to make the next phase of the season count in terms of promotion ambitions.
After our late, late show at Teesside back in mid-January, the ever-positive ‘Glass Half Full’ side of our contingent called for maximum points from the four upcoming fixtures.
As a classic pessimist, I’m honestly surprised that we managed to conjure up even 10 out of the 12 points – and we should be very proud of our team’s form.
This run of 9 games unbeaten that we’re currently sailing on, including 5 wins on the bounce, has the potential to be classed as the best part of our 17/18 season, especially if we fall short of promotion for the 2nd season running.
It was great to see Targett’s opening performances for the Whites be rewarded with his name on the goal sheet on Saturday.
Once again, he’s integrated into the squad so quickly that he’s definitely worthy of his back-to-back WhoScored.com Championship Team of the Week nominations. Matty is proving that he is, so far, the most significant January addition by quite a mile.
A word of advice for those thinking that the Bolton fixture was 2 points dropped – Throughout our winning run, it’s safe to say that Fulham were lucky to not drop points before the Macron and this is purely down to one recurring theme: Our opposition were not clinical enough in front of goal.
Of course, under Slavisa, we boss possession and we get the goals to show for it the majority of the time but Forest and Barnsley had golden opportunities to take points from us – and they didn’t.
Bolton, after taking all 3 from Bristol, had the confidence to take it to another Play Off contender and, with the opportunities both teams had and the balance of play, a point should be considered a fair result.
It’s disappointing not to continue the winning run to 6 games but these performances, from the disaster at Sunderland to the draw at Bolton, have been so impressive and our climb up the table so rapid that conversations have quickly switched from ‘Maximum Points’ to ‘Automatic Promotion’ and a whole new phase of the season starts this weekend at home to Aston Villa.
For a financial prize as staggering as promotion to the top flight, this really is the definition of the ‘Business End’ of the season.
These next 6 fixtures will either make or break our dream and we have to assume that, unlike our recent opponents, these teams are going to be clinical and are going to truly test us.
Slav will no doubt drive home to the squad the fact that Villa are still on their winning run (7 games) and are definitely a greater candidate for an automatic spot than we are.
Fortunately, you’ve got to believe that our own unbeaten run will give the boys in white the best possible mentality going into such a tough run of matches – we could hardly have prepared better.
Who in the squad is going to step up and make themselves count? I can’t wait to find out…