Match Reaction: Fulham 1-2 Huddersfield Town

Image: Fulham FC

With Storm Eunice still making her presence felt, the banks of the Thames were somewhat more soggy – and somehow even colder – than usual. Pre-game optimism was high given the recent run of form, but Huddersfield headed south with an unbeaten record that stretched back to the end of November, and unfortunately their dogged performance saw them continue that run, whilst Marco Silva must reinvigorate his team to bounce back (hopefully emphatically) against Peterborough.

The starting lineup was only slightly surprising in the absence of Neeskens, although given the hectic schedule it’s to be expected that there will be a certain amount of squad rotation, and Bobby De Cordova Reid justified his inclusion by getting on the scoresheet, albeit a bit late on. Nathaniel Chalobah’s recent performances have clearly impressed Silva and saw him retain his position in the midfield alongside TC, but given the cutthroat nature of this league and our squad depth, it’s unlikely his showing on Saturday will see him retain his place for Wednesday night’s match. Harrison Reed will be jumping at the bit and you have to imagine Seri is desperate to get back on the pitch having not featured since returning from AFCON.

The performance on Saturday probably deserved a point at the very least, but unfortunately the defensive mistakes in the first half are ones that need to be eradicated as more-often-than-not they will be punished and fair play to Huddersfield, they took full advantage. Marek Rodak has rightfully found himself as No.1 over the last few months, having waited patiently to regain his place but has he done enough recently to warrant his continued inclusion? Whilst TC’s mistake was the predominant factor in the first goal, the shot went straight through the young Slovakian and he was slow coming for the ball in the penalty incident (although it could be argued it was a harsh decision given the fact the attacker was never going to get the ball after his first touch). Whilst I would love nothing more than for Marek to cement his place in the side and become a goalkeeping legend for years to come, I currently feel like he’s becoming more Bettinelli v2.0 rather than the second coming of VDS. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but I do feel if Gazzaniga was making these mistakes, fans would be calling for him to be dropped immediately; Rodak certainly has the ‘one of our own’ leeway on his side. If (/when) we find ourselves in the Premier League next season, there’s going to need to be a big improvement from him if he’s not going to find himself as backup again…

One bright spot from the very grey day was another solid performance from Neco Williams. After a slightly shaky first appearance, the Welshman has found his feet and despite the return to fitness of Kenny Tete, it’s unlikely the Liverpool loanee will be losing his place if he continues in this vein. He could perhaps do with some shooting lessons, but then when do you ever sign a right back for their goal-scoring prowess? It’s hard to see a way that both players can be in the team, which is a shame because we now have 2 very good right backs at our disposal. If only the left hand side was as strong. Antonee Robinson and his new hairdo put in another poor showing, with his positioning and passing both called into question on numerous occasions, including in the lead up to the first goal. It’s either one or the other with Jedi; he will play a belter one week and then stink the place out the next – there doesn’t appear to be a middle ground! I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe Bryan come back into the side on Wednesday, but then he’s not exactly shone when called upon of late – which is a big shame as it would be hard for anyone to begrudge Joe a run in the side!

Mitro wasn’t having a great time of it and on another day he may have scored a couple and won a penalty, but the referee wasn’t having any of it when it looked as if our favourite fiery Serbian was being suplexed in the area on more than one occasion. Perhaps I was looking at it through beer-tinted specs, but whilst he may have gone down a bit easily at times, there was surely enough in the man-handling to warrant at least one foul… Mr Harrington thought otherwise of course. But I don’t want to be too much of a sore loser and pin the blame on the ref because we should’ve scored more without his help. He was definitely a bit shit though.

While it can be easy to become disconsolate at a defeat, especially at home and on the back of a great run, I think in this case it was just one of those days. Huddersfield were well organised and seemingly executed their game plan to perfection. When you give up 70% of the ball and around 20 shots yet still come away with the 3 points, that’s a defensive effort that has to be applauded. No real consolation for us Fulham fans but at the same time if there’s a repeat performance against managerless Peterborough, there could be another cricket score on the cards! Although probably best not to get too cocky, despite the Posh’s measly record of just 4 points and 8 goals from 16 away games this season (along with 43 conceded), this is football and it’s an odd game at times…