Saturday’s defeat to Huddersfield was a bit of a wake up call following our blistering start to Championship life in 2022. The visitors were well organised and took advantage of our laboured first half display and poor defending to take a two goal lead that our much improved second half and grandstand finish couldn’t quite peg back.
Indeed it could be argued that if we hadn’t been the victims of some awful refereeing decisions our unbeaten run in the League this year would still be intact. We’ve been good enough to make our own luck this season but if it’s true that these sort of things even themselves up over time we’re overdue some stinkers in our favour before long.
In theory a home game with struggling Peterborough was an ideal game to bounce back in. However, in remembering what a tough test the reverse fixture was I was taking nothing for granted. With Darren Ferguson leaving his post at the weekend it was a pleasure to see an old hero of ours, Simon ‘Digger’ Davies assisting in the Posh dug out although I was hoping any positive influence he might have would wait until this game was out of the way.
Marco Silva made three changes to Saturday’s line up with Reed, Seri and Kebano in for Chalobah, Cairney and Wilson and we did seem to start the game at a much higher tempo to the weekend. Although as happened at London Road, Posh kept their shape well and made themselves difficult to break down. The referee was a refreshing contrast to the fussy nature of Saturday’s official and was happy to let honest challenges go from both sides to keep the game flowing. He went even higher in my estimation when a lovely piece of skill from Mitrovic drew an injudicious challenge from a defender and a penalty was given that may have fallen into the ‘soft category.’ Mitro dispatched the spot kick with aplomb and in scoring his 32nd goal of the season usurped Ivan Toney to set a new Championship record. Mitro’s record breaking season is further cementing his status in the pantheon of Fulham legends and the removal of a Brentford player from the top of that tree makes his achievement all the sweeter.
The breakthrough was just about deserved and with the lead I hoped that a more comfortable second half might ensue. Unfortunately Peterborough hadn’t read that script and on the resumption began to pose more of a threat amidst some disjointed play from us. After a nervous period we wrested back control primarily due to the sublime skills of Fabio Carvalho who was again showcasing his mesmeric control in tight situations. A prime example of Fab’s twinkling toes set Kebano free on the left and his fine cross was met by none other than our pyrotechnic Serb to double our lead. With a two goal cushion we took full control of proceedings and the game would have been put to bed but for some fantastic saves from Steven Benda who denied both Mitrovic and substitute Harry Wilson at point blank range, as well as fellow sub Ivan Cavaliero and Carvalho from distance. Forgotten man Josh Onomah also entered the fray and it looked like a routine victory was being played out until Peterborough scored from out of the blue in the 89th minute to give us a few jitters. To be fair it’s been getting a little boring winning by multi goal margins and the 4 minutes added time kindled fond memories of the days of Parkerball when we perfected the art of hanging on for dear life while washing it down with a splash of vintage Chateau Le Marchand.
To be honest my tongue may very well have been in my cheek as I typed that last sentence and while I have nothing against our old boss I’m glad the good citizens of Bournemouth now have that dubious pleasure on a regular basis. In securing these three points we moved 9 points clear at the top and although the Cherries have games in hand, we’re set fair for an exciting end to what will hopefully and deservedly be a title winning season.
As for now, we should take pride and pleasure in the team’s performances. The strength in depth in the squad is something to behold at Championship level. Seri a prime example, having been absent from the side for some time yet immediately recovered his early season form with some trademark laser like passing. It’s not only the first team that are impressing with our age group teams clearly having some exceptional talents- as evidenced by the U-23’s stunning win at Newcastle the other day.
Let’s hope some of their ranks break through to a Fulham first team plying its trade in the Premier League in the not too distant future. For now I’ll take three points at Cardiff this Saturday. Up the Fulham!