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Fulham 3-1 Ipswich Cham 41 1617 - GetWestLondon

last updated Monday 10th April 2017, 11:27 PM

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Ryan O'Donovan at GetWestLondon

Fulham (2) 3-1 (0) Ipswich

Fulham put the wheels back on their play-off bid as they ground out a routine win against mid-table Ipswich Town courtesy of a 3-1 victory.

Floyd Ayite, Scott Malone and Stefan Johansen all got on the scoresheet as Slavisa Jokanovic's side did what they had to do in order to keep the play-offs in sight - especially after Sheffield Wednesday's victory over Newcastle later in the evening.

The Cottagers had struggled against compact teams in recent weeks, with both Blackburn and Wolves springing to mind, but it was a comfortable afternoon for the hosts who thoroughly deserved to win the tie.

Marcus Bettinelli was recalled to the starting XI in place of David Button, which went down well with most sections of the Cottage, here's what else we learned from the 3-1 victory.

Jokanovic deserves credit for his gutsy decision

It would've been easy for Jokanovic to continue playing Button, with six games left before this game most managers wouldn't dream of switching keepers, especially a manager of a side who are chasing the play-offs.

But the manager made the call to drop Button and replace him with Bettinelli, and his gamble paid off.

After a few nervy moments with the ball at feet, which you'd expect from a man who has only played three FA Cup games all season, he produced a number of outstanding saves to keep his side's lead intact.

The Cottage even got to their feet after his save from Freddie Sears to give him a standing ovation midway through the game - something I've never seen before.

Jokanovic deserves the plaudits for picking the 24-year-old, while Bettinelli deserves praise for the way he's handled himself as being number two all season.

I can't see him losing his place between now and the end of the campaign.

It was routine for Fulham, but not easy

If you watched the game, you'd be under no illusions that Fulham deserved the three points and were by far the better side, but on another day we could all be sat here cursing their luck.

Ipswich had a number of guilt edge chances to score, with David McGoldrick hitting the post while Bettinelli was at his best to deny him and Sears from scoring - really the away side could be frustrated they didn't score more.

At the end of the day it will go down as another three points of the campaign, which is the most important thing, but to say Ipswich didn't have chances to at least gain a point would be wrong.

I'm still extremely uneasy with the Fulham defence, but I'm confident that it will be addressed in the summer.

Tim Ream is still the favoured centre back

Jokanovic picked Michael Madl over Ream but the Fulham manager still favours the American as his centre back of choice along with Tomas Kalas.

Calls were there to drop Ream after the farce in Derby and Jokanovic responded, but more so I think in giving Ream more of a break after his international duties.

The American only returned from Panama on the Thursday before the Rotherham game, which is a 5,274 mile trip - something you don't recover from in the space of five days, which is the length of time between returning and the Derby game.

Dropping Ream for the game yesterday was more to give him a rest as opposed to anything more and we will continue to see him play at centre back with Kalas until the end of the season.

Where could Fulham be if Ayite played all season?

What a player Ayite is - he's been the standout in the past couple of games and three goals in the last two games is a great return.

But imagine where the Cottagers could be if they hadn't lost him to the Africa Cup of Nations and to injury?

He has been the potent threat for Fulham in the last week and he is so dangerous cutting in from the wing - defenders don't know whether to stick on him or cover the open space he leaves for Malone and Fredericks to charge into.

Reporters who I've spoken to in the press box this year have said they can't believe Fulham aren't nearer the top two, perhaps if they hadn't lost this man for a while they would've been?

Chris Martin playing for the badge on his shirt

Everyone knows what happened with Chris Martin, it's old ground and we don't need to go into it again, but the way he played yesterday will have put a lot of doubters to rest.

He had one of his better games for the Cottagers where he caused the Ipswich centre backs problems all game.


He seemed a lot more mobile than in previous games and showed a willingness to run into the channels and turn and take on his man, as opposed to staying in the middle of the park and waiting for the ball to come to him.

His movement allowed both Ayite and Sone Aluko to come in off their wings and move into the space left by Martin in the centre of the park - something that bore fruition when Ayite bagged the first after following in Martin's strike.

It's good to see the 28-year-old play like that, we all know how good a striker he is and I hope he continue in that vein as we approach the final five games of the season.

Source Ryan O'Donovan at GetWestLondon
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