Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday March 2 2008
Another home defeat, another loss and the gap is now six points between us and safety.
It doesn`t sound much, it`s only two wins but when you`ve won only twice in twenty eight games you realise the enormity of the task, especially as we`ve only got ten games to go.
The clash against United was always going to be tough, they`re the current champions and they`re playing great football. They`ve got a top squad and even by leaving the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney on the bench, they were always going to be a handful.
Fulham entered the clash without the suspended Andreasen and Eddie Johnson was given a start with Volz dropping into the starting eleven as well.
At a packed Craven Cottage, it was United that started the better and the ex-Fulham star, Saha shot wide from a good position after Scholes had done the hard work.
Niemi then spilled a long range shot from Tevez and it was clear we were living dangerously. However, at one stage it appeared we had weathered the early storm and our ex-keeper, Edwin Van der Sar did marvellously well foil Murphy with a finger tip save to keep out his twenty five yard shot.
Unfortunately, respite from United`s onslaught was brief and the visitors took the lead in the fifteenth minute when Hargreaves curled a free kick beyond the bewildered Niemi.
At this point it was obvious there was a gulf in class and United were launching attacks almost at will. Nani curled a shot wide, Scholes saw a header saved and Tevez shot over the bar.
However, we thought we`d get through to half time only losing by the single goal, sadly, it was not to be. A minute before half time, the outstanding Scholes, put through by Nani, chipped a delightful ball over the bead of our giant defender, Hangeland, for Ji-Sung Park to gleefully head home.
At 2-0 down, even with forty-five minutes to go, you sensed that we were never going to get back into this one.
The second half was strange and bordered on disappointing. At half time I sort of hoped that Hodgson would order his troops to go for it. If we were to get battered then at least go down fighting. Instead it was almost listless with United intent on not surrendering any ground and ourselves not being good enough, or even brave enough, to open them up.
Sir Alex, after having rested Rooney and Ronaldo chose to bring them on in place of Tevez and Saha, it was almost as if they were toying with us. In the end I`d have settled for 2-0 but fate had one last trick in store for us.
In the seventy-second minute Park broke down the right and fed the ball to O`Shea. The Irishman looked up and fed a ball across the face of the goal where the lurking Davies expertly turned the ball into his own net past a startled Niemi.
I looked to the heavens and started to wonder if this really was the defining day with regards to our season. Ten games to go, can you see us escaping this hell?
Date:Sunday March 2 2008
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