Friday nights have been pretty kind to us this season with a win and a draw on the road at Huddersfield and Cardiff respectively and two wins under the Cottage lights against Wigan and memorably QPR just a week ago. We therefore headed across the border in good heart especially as we’d followed the win over Rangers with a rather more routine victory over Derby on Tuesday.
The only downside from that night was seeing both Bobby Reid and Aboubakar Kamar hobble off; injuries that seemed bad enough to definitely rule them out of a game just three days later. A week or so ago we’d have been seriously worried about missing Reid but at that stage Kamara was something of a forgotten man having barely featured this term. However when he followed up his goal scoring heroics against QPR with a stellar all round first half performance against the Rams, the Cottage faithful were distraught to see his early departure with what looked a serious knock. It was therefore a pleasant surprise to hear in Parker’s pre match presser that both Bobby and AK might be fit to take on the Swans. As it turned out Bobby didn’t quite make it but thankfully AK was fit enough to retain his spot in the starting line up although there was no news on the condition of the poor duo who had to carry him back to the dressing room the other night!
Bobby’s absence forced just the one change to the starting line up with the return of another largely forgotten man in Josh Onomah. He’d arrived to something of a fanfare in the summer but the form of first Arter, then Harrison Reed has left him struggling for game time and when he did get a start at Middlesbrough he was hooked very early after Rodak’s dismissal. Critics have been quick to judge him which I feel is pretty harsh seeing how few minutes he’s had. I was therefore hopeful he’d step up to the plate in a tricky away fixture against a Swansea side that have had a pretty decent start to the season.
The Swans showed why they’ve been riding high in the table by getting on the front foot from the word go. We were grateful that a stunning point blank save by Rodak from Sam Surridge kept us level in the 6th minute which he immediately followed with a tip round the post off of Naughton’s drive. George Byers then hit the post as the energetic Welsh side pegged us back. They were made to regret not taking their chances when we took the lead from our first serious attack in the 22nd minute. Joe Bryan’s cross fell kindly to AK who’s shot slapped the crossbar before rebounding neatly in to the path of our predatory Serbian who buried a header past the forlorn Freddie Woodman. The goal took a bit of the sting out of Swansea as we began to establish control with our neat passing game. Onomah was a little ‘onomahnous’ in our midfield but it was his interception of a loose pass that led to our second just before the break. Cavaliero laid it back into his path but Josh hardly connected with what looked an attempted shot. Fortunately the Friday night Gods were smiling on us again and his touch rolled the ball perfectly into the path of Mitro who controlled it before lashing it into the roof of the net to put us two goals clear at the break.
We looked comfortable and in control on the resumption and came close to getting a third goal that would surely have put the game to bed. However Swansea got the goal that their first half performance probably deserved in the 65th minute when Rodak couldn’t quite keep out Byers close range header. With the deficit back to one, the game was back in the balance. From then on though we looked pretty resolute at the back with a number of timely blocks coming to our rescue and the renaissance of Denis Odoi as our current cult hero continued. Parker made a number of substitutions with the aim of keeping our back door locked and KMac, Christie and Knockaert all contributed as we ran down the clock to clinch our 4th successive win since the Hull disappointment at the start of the month.
It’s fair to say that none of these four games have seen us completely in control for the full 90 minutes but it’s encouraging to see us able to see out games even when we’re not at our best. The win has put us within touching distance of the top two which is a nice spot to be in with much of the Championship marathon still to be raced. These Friday night fixtures are serving us well this season; perhaps the club’s marketing department should be considering a tie up with TGIF if it carries on this way.
Thank God it’s Friday, Thank God It’s Fulham; I’ll give the club that slogan for free!