Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday March 22 2010
Was it a case of after the Lord Mayor`s show came the………………?
Well I`d beg to suggest not. After the memorable 4-1 rout of Juventus, in the Europa League on Thursday evening, there was always going to be considerable media focus on our next fixture. The fact that it was against cash-laden Manchester City, a team with ambitions of a Champions League place next season, was always going to be a hard fixture anyway.
For the clash (Sir) Roy Hodgson was unable to call upon the services of Brede Hangeland and it was to be Chris Smalling who was to take his place. Returning to midfield though was Danny Murphy who must have been gutted to have missed both those Juventus games due to suspension.
Manchester City were without a former Fulham favourite, Wayne Bridge, who spent time on loan here whilst recovering from injury. Bridge, is currently sidelined with an injury. However, Manchester City did have amongst their ranks Bellamy and Tevez both of whom were to prove a handful.
Just like Thursday evening, Fulham got off to a bad start, although it took longer than the ninety-nine seconds Juventus took to score, with City taking seven minutes. The goal came after a Bellamy shot was deflected onto the post by Aaron Hughes and Roque Santa Cruz was on hand to stick the rebound away.
Matters got worse for Fulham ten minutes before half time when City doubled their lead through a fine goal. Carlos Tevez danced past a couple of challenges and his low drive left Mark Schwarzer with no chance. After the initial disappointment of going two down had subsided the goal was well worthy of the ripple of applause that went around Craven Cottage.
Two down at half time, Fulham had it all to do in the second half but it was a rescue package that almost took place although very late on. With seventy-five minutes played Gareth Barry, despite all his protestations, was adjudged to have used his arm to control Baird`s cross and Lee Probert pointed to the spot.
Up stepped the dependable Danny Murphy to score and it was game on. Perhaps our best chance of leveling matters up came late on when a cross from Bjorn Helge Riise struck the arm of Adam Johnson, unfortunately Lee Probert wasn`t so accommodating this time and waved play on.
So it ended in a rare defeat for Fulham, at Craven Cottage, but our minds now focus on White Hart Lane this Wednesday and a chance to reach the FA Cup semi-final, at Wembley.
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Date:Monday March 22 2010
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