February 9, 2015 by bluenosebible
Fulham 1-1 Birmingham City
Written by: Nat Peters
In the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, the Tunisian Modern Pentathlon team was disqualified from the Shooting event because of how wayward their firing was; I think the tipping point was probably when one of their members managed to nearly hit one of the judges. On Saturday, the Blues frontline’s profligacy against Fulham made that Tunisian shooting team look like the SAS.
It wasn’t a good start for Blues. In fact there were still a fair few of the 3,000 strong away following making their way into Craven Cottage when a neat passing move on the edge of the Blues penalty area by the home team eventually saw Hugo Rodallega slide the ball past Darren Randolph. The Blues of days gone by may well have crumbled at this point, but the Blues of today are a different animal and quickly regained their composure and worked their way back in the game. In the first ten minutes David Davies had a good effort that flashed just wide, and David Cotterill’s inswinging corner kick nearly caught out Marcus Bettinelli in the Fulham goal.
The wait for an equaliser wasn’t much longer though. In a situation nearly identical to five minutes earlier, another inswinging Cotterill set piece from the left-hand Fulham byline evaded everybody including the hapless Bettinelli and sailed into the far corner of the goal. Blues continued to press; Dyer nodded just over at the far post, and the same man was instrumental several minutes later to set up Cotterill with a good run and cross, but the Welshman’s fizzing effort was superbly saved by Bettinelli who in the process somewhat made up for his earlier mistake.
Half of Craven Cottage’s Putney End was bouncing by this point. Three thousand Bluenoses contriving to create a constant din of support, bouncing along to the Ring of Fire which was literally ringing around the stand. Clayton Donaldson alone should have rewarded the support of those fans before half-time by taking at least one of the two golden opportunities he had. The first was when he superbly chested down Stephen Gleeson’s long range pass to get him beyond the last Fulham defender and through on goal, but as well as side footing the ball past Bettinelli he also side footed it past the wrong side of the post. Ten minutes or so later an even better opportunity; Cotterill crossed in from the left to Donaldson who was unmarked at the back post in the six yard box, but again he put the ball wide of the goal.
The interval was preceded by another great opportunity for Blues, Dyer being sent clear by a superb back heel by Andy Shinnie but his shot from the left hand side of the penalty area was well saved by Bettinelli and the ball trickled agonisingly behind the feet of Donaldson was following in. The opening forty-five minutes finished with the teams at level pegging, but Blues were by far the more dangerous looking side and if they kept on creating as many chances in the second-half the win was seemingly theirs for the taking.
And chances were what Blues continued to create. The best one fell to David Cotterill on the hour mark; a clever ball by Jonathan Grounds split the Fulham backline and set Dyer free down the left. His chipped cross from the byline reached the feet of Cotterill who was unmarked at the back post but he chose to side foot his effort when he probably should have blasted the ball and Fulham cleared. Around that time Clayton Donaldson was nearly in on goal when a cross landed on his chest in the penalty area but was smothered by a superb last ditch tackle by Lasse Vigen Christensen. Paul Robinson also had a couple of efforts in the space of thirty seconds; a corner was nodded down to him by Grounds, but his volley was blocked by a Fulham defender. The ball was eventually worked back out to substitute Demarai Gray, but his cross to the back post just went a tad too far and Robbo could only head the ball into the side netting. Try as they might, Blues just could not get that second goal.
Of course the danger when you miss so many chances is not only missing out on winning the game but missing out on any kind of result whatsoever. As the second-half went on Fulham grew into the game more. Rodallega forced a save from Darren Randolph and Seko Fofana, on loan from Manchester City and easily Fulham’s most dangerous looking player on the day, curled a shot inches wide when it looked for all the world like it was going to head in. The game was petering out though until injury time, when Rodallega managed to hook a volley on the turn which Randolph managed to tip wide to save Blues a point and stop Fulham getting what would have been a totally undeserved point.
Whilst Blues fans will be disappointed not to have got the win having had so many chances, it was a good all round performance against a team who historically and in recent times have been a bit of a bogey team for us. Although a point does nothing for what were always very faint hopes of reaching the play-offs, it means that we keep up our solid if unspectacular form of recent times; four draws in four games could be better but as we know could be a lot, lot worse. Roll on Millwall.
Fulham manager Kit Symons:
“The play-offs are an awful long way away and every time we drop points it gets that little bit further.
“Tuesday away at Bolton is now a big game for us. I think this side is capable of going on a run and that could get us closer to the play-offs.
“We started very brightly but it was almost a case of scoring too soon. It was a very good goal but we stepped back a little bit.
“The second half we started a bit slow but then dominated from there. In the end we are disappointed that we have not gone on and won it.”
Birmingham manager Gary Rowett:
“The first half we started a bit slow and conceded the goal which obviously we are disappointed with. But we showed brilliant character to get back in the game with a great piece of quality from David Cotterill, which he does so often.
“I think from there on in we were by far the better team. We counter attacked with real verve and pace and quality and I think we had five clear chances.
“As an attacking force that is as well as we have played.”
Starting line up: Randolph; Caddis, Spector, Robinson, Grounds; Davis, Gleeson; Cotterill, Shinnie (Gray 73′), Dyer (Reilly 90′); Donaldson (Zigic 83′)
Subs not used: Doyle, Reilly, Novak, Thomas
Man of the match: Andrew Shinnie