Led by the outstanding Wilson Palacios, Spurs earned a deserved draw at Craven Cottage and so for the third round in a row will need to rely on success in a replay to progress in this yearâ€™s FA Cup. In theory a Premier League team needs to only play (and win) six games before theyâ€™re bouncing up and down on the Wembley pitch behind a large piece of cardboard advertising the yearâ€™s sponsors. Weâ€™ve already played six games and weâ€™re not even in the semi-final yet.
Fulham have two midweek games against Juventus pencilled in during the next fortnight so weâ€™re going to have to wait even longer than usual for the replay. That will hopefully give us time to get a few players back and fit, though itâ€™s an opportunity for a few more to get themselves knacked as well which is more likely the way weâ€™re going at the moment.
We played better in this game than we did in the nil-nil on Boxing Day but, as then, despite loads of good possession and getting the ball wide regularly we didnâ€™t create enough chances, or more correctly, any chances. In the first half Kranjcar troubled Schwarzer with a shot from the edge of the area and Crouch made him go down to his left with a header but they were really the only times the keeper had to put down his Fosters. Very late on Bale flashed a low ball across the six yard box from the left and Kranjcar did the same from the right but in general Fulham kept us at range. We didnâ€™t make the most of our corners and free kicks, theyâ€™re a big team but surely we should be able to clear the first defender more often than we did?
Hangeland was excellent for them keeping Crouch well under control particularly in the air, Pav was even quieter. Bale played in front of Assou-Ekotto and even though he was beginning most of his runs from a standing start (as opposed to accepting the ball on the run when heâ€™s at full back) he still caused huge problems to the home team and very rarely wasted any possession. He hugged the touchline old school winger style and a buzz of expectation rose from the Spurs end each time he was given the ball. Assou-Ekotto (crossing aside) also played well. After years of the likes of Edinburgh, Tramezzani, Atouba, Taricco we get not one, but two decent left backs at the same time. What are the chances?
Bassong was left to deal with Zamora most of the time. This mightâ€™ve been a tactic of Fulham or just Bassongâ€™s bad luck. Physically he was no match for the Fulham forward so he restricted himself to stopping Zamora from turning whilst the midfield and Assou-Ekotto did their best to pick up his lay-offs and knock downs. Not ideal, youâ€™d rather Zamora was given problems actually winning the ball in the first place and if King is fit for the replay hopefully thatâ€™ll be the case. The defence did well in not giving away many free kicks and potentially allowing the height of Hangeland and Etuhu to cause problems. Corluka spent as much time forward as he did back but he had one of his days where he just canâ€™t get the treacle off his boots. Harry must long for Walker, Naughton or Adam Smith to come through and provide some zip down that side, when Lennonâ€™s unavailable at least.
There was admirable support from the away fans many of whom had obviously made good use of the pubs on the river in the Putney sunshine during the afternoon. Itâ€™s unlikely Fulham fans will come along in such numbers for the return game (God knows why not, itâ€™s only a tube journey away after all) which is a shame for them because though the odds have shifted in our favour weâ€™re still set for a tough match back at WHL.
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