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Positives and negatives: Luton Town 2-4 Fulham

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 20th May 2024

Fulham recorded their first league double over Luton Town since 1953/54 and as Cam will tell you, it was a bonkers ending to a season that has been incredibly fun to behold. You Whites!


Fulham in full flow

Nobody, not anyone, anticipated a borefest before play got underway at Kenilworth Road and true to form, it was anything but. Dull games between Luton and Fulham are few and far between and though there were plenty of tetchy moments before Adama Traore blasted the opener just before everything went batshit crazy, the Whites were geared for an attacking extravaganza on the final day of the season and as they dismantled the Hatters, the lads’ free and easy enjoyment matched that of the supporters’ in the Oak Stand.

It’s not particularly often that Fulham switch on the style and crank it up to eleven. Performances of late have gone begging, beach towels at the ready, but those who participated, and indeed those who didn’t, were determined to gain maximum satisfaction in the mid-May sunshine and it oozed into our offensive interplay.

Certain performers stole the show, whether they were playing for their futures in black and white or not, the pressure was off and the boys expressed themselves to full effect, oohs ad ahs aplenty. When you’ve Joao Palhinha and the linesman killing balls dead as they plummeted from the ozone layer, Harrison Reed whipping it into the mixer with precision and Tom Cairney forcing veteran stopper James Shea into a ridiculous stretching save, Fulham were well and truly up for it, no holds barred, and it made for a sensational spectacle.

All of our goals were expertly crafted, finely tuned, measured to perfection and while we didn’t exactly have it all our own way, we simply didn’t care for Luton’s muted responses. If the hosts genuinely believed they could claw their way back into proceedings, they were sorely mistaken. The Whites were in their element, passing sequences paid off, individuals stepped up and stood out, bins were twatted and nuts were megged, all to the infectious chorus of “Tim Ream again, olé, olé.” Run. It. Back.

Harry saves best ’til last

Every once in a while, Harry Wilson morphs into a prime Lionel Messi, or even better still an in-form Steed Malbranque, just slighter, and as he chopped inside fullbacks, plated his teammates up and stroked it into the postage stamp, the Welshman definitely saved his best outing of the campaign ’til last.

A goal of sublime quality and two assists that made mugs of Luton’s creaky defence. That’s a shift-and-a-half to savour for Wilson and with license to roam across the final third, out wide and centrally, orange ringpieces were flapping. He darted in behind Gabriel Osho undetected, Joe Johnson couldn’t nail him down and with his head up, his decisions both in and out of possession were game changing.

The brainchild behind three of the Whites’ four goals on the day, Harry ends the season as Fulham’s most productive attacker. A tally of 11 goal involvements, 4 goals and 7 assists, and for a player that hasn’t featured in the matchday XI as often as he’d probably have hoped for, that’s a return that highlights his importance to Silva’s system, even if he isn’t always the first name on the team sheet.

There was menace in his approach, and when he’s forcing the issue, pulling strings and hitting zingers, he is almost unplayable and the Hatters didn’t have an answer or a prayer. There’s so much to like and appreciate about Wilson, and while it may have come against an opponent that simply aren’t cut out for the Premier League, he was at the peak of his powers and he was very much large and in charge.

Raul’s ice-cold brace

What do we do with Raul Jimenez, eh? The die is yet to be cast, we can’t be 100% sure if he’ll take to the turf in a Fulham shirt again next season but there were more than just a few flashes of the Raul of old on Sunday afternoon and with a sharpened eye for goal, he clearly wanted to set the record straight.

Initially, the Mexican made hard work of getting into the penalty area and though his first golden opportunity bulged the side netting from all but 5 yards out, he eventually got on the end of a Wilson lay-up and he diverted coolly, calmly and consummately. Fulham restored their lead instantaneously after Luton’s spot kick and it was Raul that accurately swept it home and as we’re aware, composure hasn’t been the striker’s strong suit recently.

His sixth goal of the season would’ve come as a huge relief and release but the 33-year-old wasn’t quite done there because in the 49th minute, his seventh was chalked and it was definitely what’s known as a proper striker’s finish. Reed pumped a free-kick into the 18 from the right Jimenez was Johnny on the spot to glance it across target and he greeted it like he really, really meant it. Big jump, deft flick, ‘keeper rooted.

Netting an ice-cold brace with pinpoint precision and backheeling passes beneath Luton ballsacks is the perfect tonic following his glaring ballooner at the Gtech and he rolled back the years even further with nimble footwork in tight spaces and galloping runs beyond the Hatters’ static defensive line. And Rabonas, obviously. That’s the Raul the footballing world used to know, a handful of a number nine that occupied multiple defenders at once and altered scorelines at the first time of asking.

I still feel it’s right to cut our losses with Jimenez in the summer but whatever happens and wherever he ends up, I hope he takes the SW6 experience with him and I hope he uses it to his advantage. He could stay put and equally if he does, he has to challenge himself to become consistent and confident and actually, there’s no better man to emulate from than Rodrigo Muniz, the fringe member who was formerly Raul’s unassertive understudy.

Squad’s super send off

While Luton prepared for their lap of honour (yikes), Fulham fans, players, staff and management engaged in some of the most wholesome end-of-season scenes I’ve probably ever witnessed and with Luis Boa Morte waving his final goodbye, our heroes showed their sincere gratitude to us as we gave them a super send off.

The following masses were in fine voice throughout and once Matt Donohue closed the curtain on the 2023/24 campaign, the volume soared as Marco Silva’s black and white army soaked it all in, proud of survival and gracious of our dedicated support from the get-go.

Luis Boa was held aloft and carried to the terraces, he is forever Fulham and even to those that are too young to remember his playing days, his legend status is secure for generations. What a mighty good man he is, one of us to the core, and then it was Silva’s turn, the genius himself who has coached and inspired Fulham into becoming a worthy Premier League outfit alongside his departing compatriot and ally.

Marco has encouraged a palpable unity within his ranks and that is the aspect I adore the most about this group of players he’s assembled. They are in it together, through peace and war, and if they all continue to respect the brotherhood, this team will accomplish feats we’d dare to dream of. There’s friendships ad connections like no other in this team of ours, and they’ve been enhanced by Marco’s inclusive environment.

The smiles weren’t false or forced. Muniz clowned with Andreas Pereira, who was visibly moved and enthused by our serenade to Big Rod, Cairney gleamed as a bashful Ream was showered in glory, the entire team was getting in on the act with one another and as Palhinha made that young boy’s year, maybe even his life thus far by handing him a shirt and warm words of thanks and comfort, his affinity for us was visible and it didn’t appear to be a farewell ovation, either.

This team is worth the mileage and hangovers. I dread to think how much wonga I and many, many others have spent on trains and tinnies over the last nine months or so but the memories that have been made along the way are utterly, utterly priceless. To share those moments with them at the end of it all was special, and I wouldn’t change a thing for love nor money.


Not signing out like that, people

We may have conceded two fairly poor/freakish goals but really, I honestly couldn’t give a rats about it because we don’t have to say hello to QPR and we are going to be Premier League club for a third season on the spin. We ain’t no yo-yo club, we’re flying fucking kites out here and we’re gonna live rent free in Missus Barclays’ cranium for another 38 matches yet. Catch you in a few months, people! Up the shaggin’ Fulham!

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