0 users online

Fulham 1-2 Swansea Prem 12 1314 The Guardian

last updated Monday 25th November 2013, 11:17 AM

Guardian Logo
Paul Doyle at The Guardian

Fulham (0) 1 Swansea (0) 2

Craven Cottage used to be a fortress, now it is a house divided. Fulham fans cannot stand the performances of their team, who used to atone for wobbles on the road by excelling on their own patch but not any more. This was their eighth defeat in their last 10 home league matches and a result that leaves them rooted in the relegation zone.

Martin Jol trudged down the tunnel to the now-familiar sound of supporters calling for him to be sacked. "It is not the nicest period of my life," admitted the Dutchman, appearing more dejected than at any time in his two-and-a-half-year reign. "We needed the points. Four defeats on the trot is terrible."

This is not how the first match since the appointment of René Meulensteen as head coach was supposed to pan out and, in fairness, for a while it looked like this game might become the happy turning point that it was intended to be. Jol insists his compatriot has been hired to help him plot a path clear of relegation rather than to replace him as manager and that plan was looking well-founded early on as personnel changes and a formation adjustment gave renewed solidity to a side that has leaked goals all season.

"It's a different mouth, different things in training," said Jol. "When he phoned me and said he wanted to come I was happy. We worked for the last eight days on strengthening the spine of the team but you can't change the world in one or two weeks."

Scott Parker was given the captaincy instead of Dimitar Berbatov and was also given greater freedom to go forward as Derek Boateng was brought in alongside him in central midfield, with Pajtim Kasami and Bryan Ruiz also playing close to the middle as Fulham delegated the flanks to the full-backs. That gave them a sound platform on which to play. The fact that the game was scoreless at half-time represented a sort of progress for Fulham in the light of recent hammerings but they should really have been in front. Darren Bent missed two clear chances in the first half, heading a Parker cross wide from seven yards in the 28th minute and then, four minutes later, whacking a 16-yard shot against the post after Chico Flores had inadvertently headed a long ball into his path. Berbatov flicked a header wide from a corner moments later.

So long as the scores were level there was always the risk of the hosts' fragile confidence being pricked and that nearly happened before the break. Alejandro Pozuelo pilfered the ball from Boateng in midfield before nudging it through to Nathan Dyer, whose low shot across goal was saved brilliantly by Maarten Stekelenburg. Fulham have flickered this season but never produced 90 minutes of excellence so the challenge here was to reproduce their strong first-half showing in the second. They failed.

Swansea improved and, unlike Fulham during their period of dominance, soon capitalised with a goal, albeit thanks to a stroke of luck. In the 56th minute Chico hurled himself at a low cross from Roland Lamah and although he failed to connect, his attempt to do so confused Aaron Hughes and the ball deflected off the Fulham centre-back into the net.

Fulham sought an equaliser but were almost undone on the counter-attack, Dyer firing inches wide after a rapid break from one end to the other. Then fortune swung in Fulham's favour. In the 64th minute, just after Bent had squandered another chance, Ruiz rolled a short corner to Parker, who surely tried to pick out a team-mate at the back post but instead wafted a misdirected cross into the net.

Fulham frittered that good fortune away. Their play became increasingly scrappy and Jol's substitutions were curious, especially his withdrawal of Boateng and Parker, although taking off Ruiz at least won the approval of the crowd. Ten minutes from time a Swansea substitute, Jonjo Shelvey, deepened the manager's woe by driving past two players and firing into the net from 18 yards. Cue that chorus of "Jol Out", again.

Source .
Since 1998
"It's been updated!"