It was a sunny afternoon in South Wales as Fulham headed across the Severn Bridge to face Cardiff City. After bouncing back from defeat with a win against Peterborough on Wednesday, it was vital to keep that confidence going in the Welsh capital.
It took a while to get going with the first shot of the game coming on 14 minutes as Harry Wilson’s drilled shot was easily gathered by Alex Smithies. Then the former QPR stopper almost turned provider, a typical Cardiff long ball headed over everyone, and with James Collins bearing down on goal, you’d be forgiven if you thought Fulham were about to find themselves 1-0 down. But it was a great save from Marek Rodak, a player who’s had his critics in the past few weeks, and the Whites eventually cleared their lines. The next 13 games are a chance for him to stake his claim for the number 1 spot next season as we most likely head back to the Premier League.
The breakthrough, and the winner as it happens, came in the 41st minute as a short corner eventually found its way to Harry Wilson, whose pinpoint cross found the head of none other than Aleksandar Mitrovic to glance home for his 34th goal of the season. Every time I watch Mitrovic play, it beggars belief that he spent most of his time on the bench last season as second fiddle to a winger playing up front. Having a manager at the helm who knows how to get the best out of Mitro immediately gives us a better chance next season.
The referee was that of a typical Championship official, one that you struggle to believe is a professional at what they do! Fulham should’ve had a penalty in the 53rd minute as Aden Flint handled in the box. The referee unsurprisingly didn’t see it, and the linesman somehow didn’t either. I cannot understand why linesmen are called assistant referees, because they clearly do absolutely nothing to assist the referee when a big decision has to be made. Neither official seeing that incident is quite frankly a disgrace and will only make the claims for VAR in the Championship stronger.
Cardiff had a fair few chances, and a lack of composure probably proved their downfall, with Joel Bagan missing the pick of the chances as he headed wide with 12 minutes to go.
The officials again missed an incident when Perry Ng blatantly flung his elbow in the direction of Ivan Cavaleiro, sending Cav to the ground and Cardiff fans for some reason were in dismay that the referee had stopped the game for a head injury. Once again, neither official saw the incident, and if Ng doesn’t face retrospective action for this then I really do question the integrity of the EFL. Ng was involved in a few confrontations throughout the course of the game, but unfortunately for him, it’s the Whites who go marching on, while Cardiff sit 20th in the league, a position their style of football and attitude as a team justifies.
With 13 games to go, it really is full steam ahead to promotion for Fulham, and these are the sorts of results that win you league titles. The ones you grind out, where you’ve not played your best, but you still come away with all 3 points.
Every game is now crucial, and next week’s lunchtime kick-off at home to Blackburn is no different. 3 points there will see us 16 points ahead of Rovers who were supposedly a promotion rival around December time, but also put the Premier League tantalisingly close again.