Tag Archives: Slavisa Jokanovic

Fulham style overcomes Bluebird brawn in festive thriller

Strong winds and heavy rain dampened the Boxing Day atmosphere at Cardiff despite the Bluebirds and Fulham delivering a late Christmas in South Wales.

The Cottagers eventually ran out 4-2 winners, inflicting a first Championship home loss of the season on the hosts, with man of the match Ryan Sessegnon demonstrating why he might attract interest during the January transfer window.

The versatile 17-year-old netted 12 minutes from time to make it 3-1 to the visitors. Cardiff gave themselves hope with a 92nd minute header by substitute Callum Paterson, but Stefan Johansen struck deep into added time to send the away fans into raptures.

The conditions were horrible for both sets of spectators but made for an exciting game, with the ball zipping off the surface and presenting a tough test for the goalkeepers.

Despite their team sitting second in the table behind Wolves going into the match, the home supporters were subdued throughout, while the energy of their Fulham rivals in the stands seemed to translate to the team in white.

Celebrating

Slaviša Jokanović’s team, seeking a third win in four games, were quicker to every 50/50, moving the ball around quicker and seeming like they wanted it more.

In the fifth minute, Johansen found himself in an advance position through on goal. Bruno Manga brought him down, but the referee waved ‘play on’ as the Fulham players appealed.

Just seven minutes later, however, their fans were celebrating as Tim Reem’s back-post header put them ahead. That blow sparked the Welsh side into life, and they began to pressure Fulham on the ball, leading to a scrappy period littered with fouls.

As the half drew to a close, Fulham again found themselves bombing forward on the break with numbers supporting the attack.

The ball was pinged to Ryan Fredericks on the right wing, but his attempted cross was cut out by Sol Bamba, and Fulham had to settle for being 1-0 up at the break.

Cynical

The second half began very much like the first, with Fulham dictating the play and creating the better chances, while Neil Warnock’s men resorted to cynical fouls.

It was only a matter of time before the visitors struck again, and their pressure told in the 56th minute. Sessegnon was the provider as he coolly took the ball past his covering defender, giving him the time and space to pick out Floyd Ayité as he steamed through for the simplest of tap-ins.

This time, the celebrations were short lived, as Cardiff hit hit back a minute later with the goal of the game. A Fulham clearance landed at the feet of striker Kenneth Zohore who hit a half volley from 25 yards out which flew past Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli.

Suddenly, the home fans found their voices, and Fulham knew they had a game on their hands.

Warnock went for broke with a double attacking substitution in the 73rd minute, bringing on Paterson and Rhys Healey. Fulham responded by sending right winger Rui Fonte into action, with both teams chasing the win.

Consolation

Fonte quickly made his mark, playing a lovely ball out to Sessegnon who chested it down and slotted calmly past keeper Neil Etheridge, seemingly sealing victory and sending some of the home fans towards the exits.

Paterson’s late goal for 3-2 felt more like a consolation effort, and with Cardiff throwing everything at Fulham to try and get the equaliser, they left themselves exposed at the back. Johansen’s audacious chip to make it 4-2 was the last kick of the game.

Fulham simply outclassed Cardiff, bossing the midfield where the contest was ultimately decided. The win kept them in 11th place, while Cardiff slipped to third behind Bristol City after they beat Reading.

Struggling Blackburn stun Fulham with late leveller

Fulham missed the chance to move into the Championship play-off places as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to struggling Blackburn.

A 94th minute equalizer from substitute Lucas Joao stunned the Cottage and ensured Tony Mowbray’s unbeaten run since taking over Rovers continued.

Fulham have been scoring for fun this season – only Newcastle have notched more goals in the division. But the potency that has been so apparent in recent games seemed to be lacking slightly.

After 40 minutes, the game’s best moment was referee Andy Davies stumbling to the floor as the hosts looked to counter attack, until Neeskens Kebano was hauled down for a free kick. Everyone was down, including Thomas Kalas, who kindly picked up the referee’s red and yellow cards and handed them back to him.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were patient and slick, without being particularly penetrative. Ryan Fredericks and Scott Malone both got forward with intent as Fulham started to step up the pressure.

Influence

Rovers looked like they were going to get to break all-square, until Tom Cairney found the one thing the visitors didn’t want him to find: space. He turned, he surged, and he found Stefan Johansen free on the left.

Sone Aluko came closest to putting Fulham ahead earlier in the half, and it was he who was on the end of the Norwegian’s cross to guide home his sixth goal of the season on the stroke of half-time.

At that point, Fulham looked on course for a win that would take them into sixth place, between Reading and Sheffield Wednesday, with the two scheduled to play each other at Hillsborough on Friday.

Only Mowbray knows the reason why Joao did not start, and it must have been a good one. The Portuguese striker was brought on with half an hour to play and looked a class above the rest as he started to influence the game.

Lively

The Cottagers have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight games, and that seemed to give Blackburn some encouragement. Chris Martin dallied on the ball on the halfway line which enabled Rovers to pounce.

Marvin Emnes, who was lively all night, was brought down in the area and Craig Conway fired home the resulting penalty with 10 minutes to go.

Fulham pushed for a winner, and Ryan Sessegnon had a few promising runs down the left side to no avail. The 16-year-old wonderkid has recently been linked with a move to Tottenham, but it was a former Spurs defender who was the white’s best player on the night.

Fredericks looked to get forward at any given opportunity and his endeavor was finally rewarded late on when he played the ball low across the six-yard box for substitute Cyriac to convert low past Jason Steele.

Stunned

Craven Cottage was rocking. The Hammersmith end went into party mode for all of about five minutes as their elation was cut short. The man that had the biggest influence for Blackburn on the night had the final say.

Joao fended off Tim Reem with ease to sweep home a Derrick Williams cross in the 94th minute, leaving the Cottage stunned. It was a third goal in two games now for the 6ft 3in forward as Mowbray’s side jumped out of the drop zone.

Joao was booked for celebrating with a little too much wild abandon. The only plus for Fulham was the draw extended their unbeaten run to eight matches, but this was definitely two points dropped for Jokanovic’s team.

A home win against lowly Wolves on Saturday would still see Fulham rise into the play-off places, but they cannot afford to drop too many more points, especially at home.