Writer: Ollie Sheehan
Date:Tuesday April 11 2006
For the first time this season Fulham finally looked like they might secure their first away win of the season, but God is not on Fulham’s side.
The team seem to be cursed and the away win Chris Coleman so craves just doesn’t seem to want to fall at the feet of the team with the worst away record in Premiership history.
A timely intervention somewhere along the line has occurred at Craven Cottage be it the Holy One himself or the sheer fact that all records (including the bad ones that no-one wants to hold) were made to be broken. Fulham sit on four points which is the worst record in the Premiership and football league from their nineteen away fixtures with just two chances to rectify this miserable slump, the other one being at the City of Manchester Stadium.
Coleman described the situation: 'Well we wanted to play on of course, we were 1-0 up and playing very well but I can understand Mike Riley's decision, the conditions weren't getting better - they were getting worse. He's put the player's safety first and that's paramount.
“Visibility was poor, Antti Niemi couldn't see the striker closing him down and that tells you everything. The players have come in and are disappointed because we felt like today was going to be our day.
“We were playing well and had a strong foothold on the game and looking for our first away win. When you're searching for that elusive away win you need a bit of luck and we didn't get that today', was Coleman’s diplomatic conclusion to Mike Riley’s decision to abandon the game due to dangerous playing conditions.'
So still we wait, in inquisitive anticipation rather than foregone expectation to see if Coleman’s beloved Whites can finally break their duck away from home this season.
Diop signing a new contract and coming back from injury along with Niemi, the news of Claus Jensen returning to training and being not far off from making the first team, the recent win over Chelsea, and the fact that Sunderland are the only team in the top flight without a home win all season all pointed to just one conclusion.
Yes, the critics were saying a draw is a certainty. But to anyone that has watched Fulham closely this season, the hunger and desire is rarely in doubt, the football is exciting and enterprising, quick and creative and the goals are being scored. It had to be the win that is so long overdue. Unfortunately though, too often the nerve and shape of the team has fallen flat on its face and now the doors of opportunities are closing shut at a rapid pace.
Compare Fulham playing away to wind and a blade of grass. When Fulham are in full flow they stand tall looking confident and elegant, like nothing could be more secure. But then nerves hit them, like a tornado coming from nowhere and hitting that blade of grass full on at 150 mph. The grass has no chance. They capitulate just when they seem to be in a position to make best of the situation because they simply cannot stand their ground and grind out the result.
Now Coleman will have to wait until it is rearranged and hope against hope that his side can come out just as brightly. But this time maybe if they dig in, put up a shelter against the storm and hold on till the last, they might not end up flat on the ground looking at those trampled, weathered blades of grass as their equals.
Date:Tuesday April 11 2006
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