How Stockport did it

last updated Tuesday 02nd January 2001, 5:47 PM
The statistics from the Stockport game show Fulham trying to play stylish football, 14 attempts on goal in comparison to Stockport's seven but being out foxed by a mixture of brute force and well schooled technique.

Out of the 14 Fulham goal attempts 6 were on target in addition while another two attempts, both by Andrejs Stolcers, hit the woodwork. Stockport had 7 attempts on goal with 4 being on target, two of which were converted into goals. The Fulham goal attempt rate and accuracy was in keeping with the average for the last half a dozen games, in fact they were fractionally better than the figures seen for the Watford game where Fulham scored 5 goals. The difference seems to be that most of the players were below par and could not make the final ball count for anything.

It is also clear that Stockport decided, as part of their tactics to blunt Fulham's attacking football, to operate an offside trap which our players could not outsmart. Fulham were judged to be offside 11 times in comparison to an average of 4 times during the previous six matches. How did it work so effectively? Were Fulham players failing to concentrate, were Stockport players smarter than our players or were the ref and the linesmen making mistakes. Take your pick.

The foul and caution numbers are quite unbelievable and underline the anti-Fulham bias seen so far this season. Stockport committed 18 fouls in just over 90 minutes. Yes that's right 18 or on average one every five minutes and how did Mr A. N. Butler of Sutton-in-Ashfield deal with this concerted and cynical effort to pervert the game he was responsible for on behalf of the Football Authorities? He cautioned two Stockport players, both in the last twenty minutes of the game!! How do Mr A.N. Butler, his colleagues and the football authorities expect to improve the standard of football in this country when they condone such behaviour?

So as we have seen before squads not able to match Fulham's stylish football increase their work rate to close us down, increase their foul rate to upset our rhythm and mount smash and grab counter attacks exploiting gaps in the midfield. Jean Tigana will have plenty of food for thought for a while fortunately New Year comes around just once a year.
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