I would like to shake the hand of the person responsible for organising us an away day at Bournemouth over Easter Bank Holiday weekend. On a day when the football was probably one of the least important aspects of the day, 1300 of us partied in the corner of the Vitality Stadium for no other reason than we love our Club!
The sun shone, the inflatables were flying all over the place, the drinks flowed and the atmosphere was brilliant; all in all, it was the best day of the season. We have collectively licked our wounds after relegation and we are back and ready to go again!
Tom Cairney was missing from the squad and I believe his girlfriend was in labour. At the time of writing, there is no news on the new arrival but we at Fulham Focus send Tom and Abbie our love and best wishes. Meanwhile, back on the pitch, Seri was back in the side taking the captains place in central midfield. The only other change to the side from the victory over Everton last weekend was an enforced one as Denis Odoi was in at right back for the injured Fosu-Mensah.
So what was the secret to the formula that brought about our first away win of the season, our first back-to-back wins of the season and our first back-to-back clean sheets of the season? Undoubtedly something has just clicked since relegation. We spoke about this on the podcast last week and had a chat about whether we are now seeing the fruits of Parker’s labour or whether the players are simply playing with more freedom and less pressure since relegation. The conclusion I drew was that it’s absolutely impossible to tell but I’d like to think it was a bit of both. The players clearly like playing for Scott and although the performances are still inconsistent, there has been a marked improvement since he took over as Caretaker!
Speaking of the podcast, I caned Sergio Rico on last weeks show, but he had a brilliant game at Bournemouth. He made a fantastic fingertip save from Ryan Fraser in the first half and made several key blocks throughout the game. I’m not sure if I’d give him the man of the match because that would imply that he rescued the points for us when we were under the kosh. I don’t think that would be a fair reflection on the match in which we constantly threatened going forwards. But he had his best game for the Club in my opinion in any case.
We went into the break still level but really it should have been 1-1; Joshua King blasted over the crossbar for Bournemouth from 6 yards out when it looked easier to score, then Mitrovic did exactly the same thing for us in the very next attack moments later.
We were awarded a penalty for a foul on Mitro just after half-time and the big man got straight up and stuck the ball in the bottom corner right in front of us. He came straight over to celebrate and given the way he celebrated, perhaps its not such a foregone conclusion that he will leave in the summer. Were he to stay, I think his popularity would go through the roof and up to the moon. He clearly loves Fulham and to call us the ‘best fans in the world’ in his post-match interview is an amazing thing to hear from him.
To have had such a perfect day makes me a little bit sad that the season is nearly over. Don’t get me wrong, its been a tough season, a horrible season- but days like that are what keep us going back. Watching us ship goal after goal all over the country all season has been rough but it does make a day like this one all the sweeter. It means nothing in terms of the Premier League, but it means everything to make some great memories and I will always look back on this one very fondly. Just the tonic!