This is one of those games that has frustrated me so much I don’t know where to start with the reaction, nor do I really feel like writing it…
The afternoon got off to a sour start when Newcastle fought back to draw with Spurs to strengthen their hold on 17th place.
Initially, I liked the look of the line-up, but my eye was immediately drawn to the fact that Jack Grealish wasn’t in Aston Villa’s matchday 18.
Parker made four changes for us, bringing in a rejuvenated Mitro, a fit-again Decordova-Reid, Kenny Tete and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Personally, I was looking for Mitrovic to make a difference following his heroics in a Serbia shirt, and without a Fulham goal since September now would be the perfect time to come back into the fold.
I thought we started well and limited Villa to very little. They looked devoid of creativity and ideas without Grealish, and we were unfortunate to not be ahead.
Mitrovic looked back to his happy best, and the imperious Joachim Andersen went close with an effort that was sent just wide.
Just on half time, Villa were awarded a penalty for what seemed like a rash Mario Lemina challenge on Ollie Watkins. However, upon inspection, it was clear to see Lemina had won the ball and hadn’t fouled anyone. So, it was very refreshing to see referee Paul Tierney overturn his own decision after a quick look at the VAR monitor.
The second half got off to a rather unfortunate start, Ademola Lookman withdrawn with an injury which Parker confirmed was a ‘twinge in the hamstring’. We can only hope it’s not too serious as he’s going to be vital as the games go on.
We took a deserved lead just after the hour mark when Mitrovic reacted quickest to a horrendous backwards pass from Tyrone Mings. He left keeper Emiliano Martinez on the floor before rolling it in to give us a precious, precious lead. The big man is back.
The goal looked to have put a spring back in our step, as I thought we’d gone off the boil a little since Lookman was withdrawn. Villa looked spineless and brought on Trezeguet and Keinan Davis in an attempt to salvage something.
And salvage something they did. Mings went from zero to hero for Villa as his cross from the right was swept home by Trezeguet with 12 minutes to play. Frustrating, but the narrative has always been a point away from home isn’t a bad result.
However, it was about to go from bad to worse in a matter of minutes as Tosin gave the ball away midway inside our own half. Davis nicked it from him and crossed to find Trezeguet who was on hand to fire home again. No goals since July and now two in three minutes for the Egyptian (insert THAT Keith Allen clip here).
Ollie Watkins added a third soon after to really pile on the misery for Fulham fans. The whistle went for full time and you could see the disappointment etched into everyone’s faces.
Let’s not glaze over the real issue here. The game management was shocking from Parker and his team of support staff. To be 1-0 up away from home and passing it round the back, sitting off the opponents and letting them come on to us, is extremely naïve. Just put your foot through it or at least stay 100 percent committed to what got you ahead in the first place. That is basics. Parker can stand there twiddling his thumbs and talking about good and bad moments in a game, but we’ve had so many bad moments and near misses this season that the genuine good moments are in short, short supply.
This narrative of not quite being good enough, or being good and not clinical enough has to change if we are to stay up but if this is where we are at after 31 games, what can we realistically expect from the next 7?
Oh well, as the song goes, stand up if you still believe. I’m sitting down at my desk as I write this, but a win against Wolves on Friday will have me back on my feet for sure.
Come on you Whites!