After the debacle that was Coventry away, the international break provided Fulham players, fans and staff alike with an opportunity to reflect on four or so weeks where it felt as if we were stopping and starting more times than a dodgy computer.
With two weeks to mentally prepare for QPR, it gave Marco Silva time to analyse some of the more contentious spots in his starting squad. When at 11.30 on Saturday morning the team sheet was released we were able to see the fruits of his mind the break.
The main piece of team news was Marek Rodak, who came back into the team in place of Paulo Gazzaniga. I was slightly surprised by his inclusion as although Gazzaniga hasn’t been incredible, he hasn’t often let us down either. That said, his performance against Coventry wasn’t up to scratch so it was nice to see Rodak given a chance, having waited in the wings for 18 months or so- bar an appearance against Newcastle last season.
It was/is also nice to see Tom Cairney back in the team. He’s been so unfortunate with injuries since Christmas and in my opinion still has a lot to offer to the team and the club.
We got the game itself off to a perfect start when after just 10 minutes, Aleksandar Mitrovic fired home from around 15 yards out. 12 goals in 12 games now for the big Serb, who is in the form of his life and now also the leading scorer for the club this millennium.
The first half passed without much incident, and we looked comfortable both on and off the ball. Keeping QPR at arms-length we kept the score at 1-0 heading into the break. I thought the midfield three of Seri, Reed and Wilson- who was playing in the 10- were excellent and once again looked a cut above Championship standard.
The second half got off to a far-from-ideal start, when substitute Lyndon Dykes rounded Rodak to equalise. When the goal went in, I felt a bit sick as I thought I’d seen it all before. It just felt like another of those games where we’d start well and leave with nothing.
But what came soon after, changed all that.
Mitrovic scored his second of the game following a sumptuous ball from Kebano, who looked diminutive on the wing once again. Just minutes after, Bobby Reid added a third following a beautiful through ball by Seri and the roof came off the Cottage.
It was special being in the Hammersmith End and watching the ball fly past Dieng’s outstretched palm and into the corner of the net closest to me.
The QPR fans began to file out, and a chant detailing their fortunes in front of a Television audience rang across the ground. What a joy.
And it would only get worse for them, as just minutes before the referee blew for full time, Antonee Robinson found the net from range- albeit via a huge deflection. He celebrated by tucking the ball up his shirt as a dedication to his future child, whom Robinson recently revealed he is expecting with his partner. Now double congratulations are in order!
So, a dominating derby performance, solid showings across the pitch and a cracking atmosphere to boot. With an out of sorts Cardiff at the Cottage on Wednesday, Fulham might (might) just be back. But whisper it quietly.