THE FULHAM INDEPENDENT - SUPPORTING THE TEAM HOME & AWAY
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Please note: All match reports are 'tidied up' the day after matches - and the late Saturday reports are often written after a long journey home.
Wigan v Fulham match preview
The big question is, will Kevin Keegan stick with the formation and selection that looked so unconvincing at the weekend? Surely not?
This game now becomes vitally important to our Championship aspirations as Stoke are currently 4 points clear, this being one of our games in hand.
The big threat looks to come from Kilford, Barlow and David Lee as the Latics look to climb the table into a play-off position. Yes, thanks to TFi reader Jim, we had Wigan watched last weekend and our spy reckons that whilst he's lost a yard or two of pace, that Lee could be the danger man down the right - and with Brevett out of sorts this could indeed spell danger?
Barlow is described as Pesh like with darting pacy runs and Kilford best likened to a younger Paul Bracewell who covers a lot of ground and gets thru even more work.
All in all though, Jim reckon's Wigan are there for the taking and If we play anything like we can do I agree. Thing is, who gets left out and who gets a job?
For me, it's time Rufus was rested. He's cost us at least two goals recently and Matt Brazier had been getting rave reviews at Cardiff. Give the boy a chance I say.
Steve Finnan has been doing well over on the right and the middle three defenders can't really be faulted even if Morgs does like to resort to the odd hoof here and there.
As for the midfield, bring back Brace, Hayward and Collins (if the latter is fit) other than that I'd go for Brace Hayward and Trollope with Pesh and the Horse up front. All this of course is pure speculation as I get the feeling KK will stick with the team that started Saturday apart from the middle men.
Let's hope we can get back onto winning ways - although I feel that KK may just have tinkered with the side a little too much and that we'll come away with just the point after a 1-1 draw.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Bracewell, Trollope, Peschisolido, Horsfield, Hayles.
Gillingham 1 v 0 Fulham match report
Kevin Keegan suprised many of the Fulham faithful by leaving out Paul Bracewell and Steve Hayward and leaving in Paul Trollope and Neil Smith. This seemed to contribute to the Whites downfall as although Trollope and Smith had reasonable games, neither were able to stamp their authority on a scrappy game that was lost in the middle of the park.
Fulham's best effort of the game came in the first half when Trollope took a 25 yard free kick that looked to be sneaking into the keepers right hand corner but Vince Bartram, back in for Jim Stannard, saved well.
Gillinghams best chance in the first 45 came when a neat cross from the right just failed to meet the on rushing former Brentford striker Carl Asaba who looked likely to beat Maik Taylor to the ball, although thankfully both seemed to miss it.
Gillingham appeared to get the benefit of any doubt after Paul Pesh was brought down by the last man who received only a yellow card from the very poor Mr.Lynch.
The second half saw the tempo of the game rise a little although this may have been due to Fulham now kicking toward us travelling fans - we seemed to me at least, to have had the better of the play but without ever really looking like breaking the deadlock.
Livewire Paul Peschisolido came closest when after a neat run down the right he shot in toward the keeper who parried the ball out but to the frustration of the supporters there was no sign of a Fulham striker to tap the ball home.
Late on the same player appeared to have won us a penalty after a jinking little run inside the box resulted in him being tackled from behind but controversial referee K.Lynch was having none of it and waved away the Fulham appeals. Chris Coleman also believed we had another shout for a penalty after a Gills player appeared to have handled the ball inside the area but again to no avail.
The teams looked to be playing out a 0-0 draw when in the 4th minute of injury time Rufus Brevett lost his man over on the Gills right, a sweet cross was placed neatly onto the head of Robert Taylor who finished with ease from close range to spark a hillarious reaction from the Gills bench, proving what a scalp we have become as the celebrations spilled onto the pitch.
If Kevin Keegan is Harrods, Tony Pullis is strictly betta buys.. as the reaction after the game also showed the gulf in class between the two managers. Keegan, gracious in defeat refused to moan about the referee or the result and said that Gills deserved their win for working so hard. Meanwhile Pullis spouted on about how Fulham lacked team spirit and pride.
We'll see Pullis, we'll see...
Fulham team: Taylor(6) Finnan(7) Brevett(5) Morgan(6) Coleman(7) Symons(6) Trollope(6) Smith(6) Peschisolido(8) Horsfield(6) Hayles(5)
Subs not used: Beardsley, Hayward & Uhlenbeek.
Overall performance(5) MoM Paul Peschisolido. Referee (4)
Gillingham v Fulham match preview
The two in form teams in the division meet at Priestfield this Saturday in what promises to be a cracking game of football. Gillingham have injury worries with Patterson and on loan Marcus Browning both definately missing thru injuries sustained last weekend at Manchester City, whilst former Fulham favourite Jim Stannard is set to keep his place between the sticks after a return to form.
For us a draw wouldn't be the end of the World - in fact, you'd have to look upon it as a good result. We've never had much luck at the Priestfield and we always seem to get a referee intent on favouring the home side... and this time we're blessed with the prescence of Mr.K.Lynch, he of causing a near riot fame... What a sensible choice from the football league, not!
The big question is, which two strikers will play this weekend? And it surely will be just the two for this game. KK will most likely revert back to playing a three man midfield and hopefully a fit again Wayne Collins? We'll see...
Neil Smith will feature I'd imagine after some good recent performances although I worry about his temper sometimes - and Gillingham is a place for cool head... so it looks like the subs bench for Smudger.
So a dificult looking game then but I have a feeling that our lads know exactly what they have to do this time around... and I'm plumping for a 0-3 thumping good win.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Collins, Bracewell, Hayward, Peschisolido, Horsfield.
Subs: Hayles, Smith & Beardsley (or Lehmann)
Fulham 2 v 1 Chesterfield match report
All eyes were on new £2 million new boy Barry Hayles but it was that other million pound man Paul Peschisolido who stole the show this afternoon at Craven Cottage. The little Canadian striker had probably his best game in the White shirt today as he tore Chesterfield apart from the 1st minute till the last.
Fulham took the lead thru' Paul with a stunning effort similar to the goal at Anfield a few short weeks ago and what a cracker it was. Another contender for goal of the season as Pesh shot over the keeper from the right hand side, just outside the box - and into the back of the net.
A crowd of 10,005 then saw Fulham dominate the rest of the first half with other efforts from Steve Hayward, Barry Hayles, Kit Symons, Geoff Horsfield and Pesh again all go close.
The second half started in similar fashion with Fulham on the attack and on 55 minutes the superb Geoff Horsfield jinked his way into the box and was clearly upended for a penalty which Paul Peschisolido duly despatched to put Fulham deservedly 2-0 up.
Chesterfield then came back into the game and all credit to them, they showed just why they'd conceeded just 6 goals away from home all season and have the meanest defence in the the league. Changing their formation to 3 and sometimes 4 up front they stretched the Fulham defence on numerous occassions and pulled a goal back on 62 minutes, Jonathan Howard poking in a cross past Maik Taylor and then it was backs to the wall stuff for 15 minutes as Fulham allowed Chesterfield's height to cause panic in the defence.
Fulham then rallied in the last 10 and Paul Peschisolido went close twice more and Geoff Horsfield even managed to practice his keep ups as the final whistle drew close much to the delight of the Fulham crowd.
Paul Holland was sent off in the 89th minute for what looked like and elbow on Pesh but this had no bearing on the result as the ref blew shortly after.
Another great win against really difficult opposition and three points nicely tucked away.
Fulahm team: 5-3-2 Taylor(6) - Finnan(7)Nice touches, good feet, will go a long way and a solid buy - Brevett(6) Rufus isn't on his game at the minute - Morgan, Coleman and Symons (All 7) - Bracewell(7) - Hayward (7) - Hayles(6) Didn't get into the game - Peschisolido(9) Superb - Horsfield (8) So much more to this guys game other than just goals. A real star buy.
Subs used: Smith(6) Not on for long - Uhlenbeek(7) Did well and worried the defence with his pace: Not used: Beardsley.
Fulham v Chesterfield match preview
Team selection... that's surely the biggest problem facing Fulham boss Kevin Keegan as we prepare to take on the hard working and tight defence of Chesterfield at Craven Cottage this coming Saturday.
These days predicting our formation is just as hard as predicting the side! One thing is for sure, Chesterfield should offer a stern test for our front line after conceeding a mere 6 goals away from home all season. Having said that, I believe they've only scored one!
New boy Barry Hayles looks set to start the game on the bench with Geoff Horsfield and Paul Peschisolido starting up front - leaving the unfortunate Dirk Lehmann looking for a place in the reserves... He'll feel hard done by after recent performances.
All that matters is three more points being chalked up against difficult opposition and even after a minor hiccup last week against Leigh RMI I still believe we shall be far too strong for Chesterfield who'll probably come and try to snuff us out hoping for the draw - with the possibility of a bonus goal...
Likely Fulham team: (??) Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Bracewell, Hayward, Collins, Horsfield, Peschisolido.
Subs: Hayles, Trollope, Salako. TFi Prediction: Hell, someone's got to take a beating... Fulham to win 4-0.
Wrexham 0 v 2 Fulham match report
Yet another fine display on the back of Bristol Rovers might have been a little too much to ask - but not for this Fulham team.
The match was played in a cold but clear atmosphere that's ideal for football and the long journey was made even worse with traffic jams at Birmingham. However as soon as the game kicked off the boys made it clear that they wanted to build even further on Saturdays display against Rovers.
In just the 1st minute Steve Hayward played a neat one-two with Gus Uhlenbeek only for Steve to shoot high when hitting the target may have been easier.
On 3 minutes Gus again worked well down the right beating two men but his cross wasn't as good as his own build up and the ball went out for a goal kick.
Wrexham themselves then had a good cross put into Ian Rush but Maik Taylor who was superb tonight gathered easily as the former Liverpool and Wales star was given a torrid time by Chris Coleman in the Fulham defence.
Then around the 8th minute Fulham won a penalty after Dirk and Pesh combined to send our little Candadian sprinting into the box only for Brian Carey to upend him as he lined up his shot.
Steve Hayward stepped up but was unable to add to his spot kick tally with a tame shot aimed just to the keepers right and at a poor height for Mark Cartwright to save easily.
Ian Rush then had another chance but was thawrted by Taylor once more.
Around 16 minutes Fulham took the lead. Dirk Lehmann and Paul Peschisolido played a neat quick one-two and the latter sent Gus hurtling toward goal as Cartwright advanced. Uhlenbeek smashed the ball into the bottom corner of the net and stood in front of the 450 travelling Fulham faithful who went wild with delight. This was a very neatly worked and executed effort indeed.
Gus then caused more problems down the right hand side and two corners where then won but nothing of any note came of them.
Around the half hour a nice little inter change between Dirk was set free and bearing down toward the keeper on the left but his shot was parried by Cartwright only to find Peschisolido had found his way into the box and was left unmarked on the edge of the 6 yard box to smash the ball home to make it 0-2.
On 35 minutes Pesh, who was giving the Wrexham defence a terrible evening, was continually being niggled by the Wrexham 6 Carey who was lucky not to have already been in the referee's book. Pesh seemed to have been fouled again by the same player but the ref was having none of it and booked Paul for a comment he seemed to make. Probably something like "How much longer are you going to allow him to kick me all over the park?"
So half time and 0-2, and in years gone by we'd be thinking that a Wrexham comeback was nothing short of a certainty. Not with this Fulham side!
The second period was played out in a lower key, Wrexham didn't, or simply were unable to offer anything of any real substance. Ian Rush was basically unable to make any headway against Fulhams back three ad in Particular must have been pleased to hear the final whistle and the back of Chris Colemans attention.
It has to be said that whilst Dirk Lehmann isn't a particularly great finisher, his team work is splendid. He brings people into play nicely, works for the team and his passing is crisp and neat. Dirk had another good game.
Special mentions also must go to Maik Taylor who plucked out every single corner and cross tonight like they where his food and drink. And he made a couple of half decent saves as well and it was great to hear the crowd sing "There's only one Maik Taylor" - The blokes top class when it comes to the fans too, celebrating with us and sharing banter during the game. Top man!
Wayne Collins ran his socks off again (We'd miss him so much) and Gus was brilliant tonight rampaging down the right flank and giving Wrexham a nightmare.
Paul Bracewell also had another fine game and his legs were given a rest on 85 minutes when Neil Smith replaced him, whilst Paul Trollope and John Salako were not required on the night.
At the final whistle the players came to the fans and shared a good few minutes in mutal recognition and appreciation and it was noticable that Captain Chris Coleman was nearly first and definately last away milking and leading the applause.
Sure it might now be 2.30 in the morning, but who cares! The whites are going up
Fulham team: Taylor(7) Uhlenbeek(8) Brevett(6) Morgan(6) Coleman(8) Symons(7) Bracewell(7) Collins(7) Hayward(6) Peschisolido(8) Lehmann(6)
MoM: Gus Uhlenbeek. Overall performance 8
Wrexham v Fulham match preview
As the games come thick and fast, Fulham take on a Wrexham side which on paper at least, look a poor side. So far, the Welshman have notched up just five wins all season but perhaps ominously, all of them at home.
Karl Connolly is their man to watch with 4 goals so far this term but new boy Terry Cooke, on loan from Manshester United may also require some attention from Cookie and co.
Geoff Horsfield looks set to miss out again through that groin injury although as yet, we've still no indication of how serious that is? Dirk Lehmann should keep the number 9 shirt and deservedly so after Saturdays second half performance.
John Salako may find himself on the bench once more although many feel, myself included, that a fit Salako should be included in the side from the off.
The team is becoming harder to predict. Will KK change a winning formula? Will he stick with the convincing 5-3-2 that has worked so well so far - even though Gus has been a little less convincing in that defensive/attacking wing back roll? I think we'll probably stick with the eleven that started on Saturday.
So a tough game is guaranteed at the Racecourse but this Fulham team looks too strong and too experienced to come away with anything less than a 1-2 win.
Fulham v Bristol Rovers match report
Fulham 1 Bristol Rovers 0 - it's not often you'll see such a one sided affair end up 1-0 but today, thanks to some bad luck and some brilliant keeping that's exactly what occurred.
Fulham took the game to Rovers from the very first minute and numerous chances were made - the better ones falling to the centre backs Morgan, Coleman and Symons who were always a danger at set pieces. Fulham won an amazing amount of corners during a ten minute spell during the first 45 but were unable to make them tell.
On 37 minutes the breakthrough finally arrived, some neat play by Paul Bracewell who had an absolutely outstnading match - he supplied Steve Hayward who's pass to Dirk Lehmann (who replaced the injured Geoff Horsfield - groin strain) found Wayne Collins who's miss hit shot trickled over the line from about six yards.
It's ironic that in a game where so many superb chances were made and so many decent efforts saved, that a flukey goal won all three points - although thoroughly deserved.
Maik Taylor was then called upon to make a super save when Barry Hayles had one of Rovers only two efforts all afternoon saved.
The bulk of the pressure came in the second half when Fulham laid seige to the Rovers goal, chance after chance went begging with Dirk Lehmann having three excellent efforts well saved, Wayne Collins, Gus Uhlenbeek and Paul Peschisolido also going close.
Perhaps the most annoying denial came after both Beardsley and Salako came on with ten minutes to go for the tiring Pesh and Lehmann, Salako had a goal bound shot handled on the line by a Rovers defender, the referee put his whistle in his mouth to blow for the penalty but appeared to amazingly play the advantage as it looked like the on-rushing pack of Fulham players would score - they didn't and the ref removed his whistle from his mouth! Amazing and unbelievable. I always thought that if you prevented a goal on the line by use of the hand that was a penalty in the rules of football? Obviously not tho this incompetant fool...
Anyway, three more points and the promotion bandwagon gains further momentum. Who can stop us? Certainly not Stoke!
Fulham team: Taylor(8) Stunning save to deny Hayles - Uhlenbeek(6)Great runs, shame about the passing sometimes - Brevett(7) Spirited performance - Morgan(8) Battling as always, never seems to let us down - Coleman(8) As per Morgan but can play the ball out even better - Symons(8) As per Morgan and Coleman! - Collins(9) Ran his heart out and scored the winner - Bracewell(9) A super midfield display - Hayward(7) Terrible corners but otherwise worked hard - Peschisolido(7) Ran as usual but not firing on all cylinders today - Lehmann(8) Won nearly every header, defended and worked hard.
Overall performance(8) Crowd 11,575 MoM: Wayne Collins/Paul Bracewell
Fulham v Bristol Rovers match preview
Top and bottom of the table meet this Saturday in what could be an explosive match. What am I on about? The disciplinary league table of course!
Bristol Rovers have had a massive six players already sent of this season with plenty of yellows thrown in. Meanwhile, Fulham are bottom (or you could say top I suppose) of the league with just 12 yellows.
Rovers hitman and former Whites target Barry Hayles and midfield man Jamie Cureton are the two to watch as Rovers find the net with considerable ease. The good news however is that their away form is awful and their defence not much better.
This makes for an exciting prospect as Fulham finally start to play the Kevin Keegan way... i.e. lots of goals and a few let in to boot!
John Salako could be available if he comes through his mid-week reserve game without any adverse reaction to his calf injury and Geoff Horsfield looks set to keep the number 9 shirt ahead of Dirk Lehmann.
A thoroughly good afternoons entertainment is on the cards but for me, entertaining is winning and we must keep the pressure applied.
Taking into consideration both teams records I'm going for Fulham to beat 10 man Rovers 3-2.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Morgan, Coleman, Symons, Bracewell, Hayward, Collins, Horsfield, Peschisolido.
Subs: Salako, Lehmann, Beardsley.
Blackpool 2 v 3 Fulham match report
Whilst the weather in London was poor, in Blackpool the sun shone down although it was still very cold, making a great afternoon for football.
Fulham, playing in our home kit, started the game slowly and came under a small amount of pressure during the first 10 minutes or so when we seemed to be suffering from a Tuesday night hangover.
Two changes from that Liverpool game with Geoff Horsfield replacing Dirk Lehmann and Paul Bracewell returning from injury to replace young Sean Davis.
With neither keeper having to make a real save during the first 20 minutes Fulham took the lead somewhat against the run of play on 24 mins when Simon Morgan at last managed to bag his 50th goal for the club, Steve Hayward floating in a free kick to Paul Bracewell who placed the ball neatly over to the far post where Simon was available to volley the ball into the net from close range.
Two minutes later we where 2-0 up when a long clearance from Chris Coleman sent Geoff Horsfield away clear of the Blackpool defence, Geoff clear thru on goal was then brought down - penalty, no doubt about it. At this stage the Blackpool player should surely have received a red card but the refereee brandished a yellow for some inexplicable reason?
Steve Hayward neatly slotted the ball home sending the keeper the wrong way and celebrated by blowing kissess to the Fulham faithful.
On 28 minutes Super Geoff then had a superb chance to make the score 3-0 but chose to shoot directly at the keeper when a simple square pass would have found Paul Peschisolido waiting un-marked in the middle with an empty net to shoot at...
On 30 mins Blackpool's former Fulham striker Mikcy Conroy, who received a wonderful round of applause from the Fulham crowd, won a dodgy looking free kick and 'Pool scored from the kick after the ball seemed to take a wicked deflection beating Maik Taylor.
To their credit Blackpool never gave up and came at us during the second half without ever really threatening the three points - they scored a superb second late on with a free kick similar to that scored by Hayward last weekend and there was one little scare toward the end but all in all a thouroughly deserved win.
Dirk Lehmann replaced the tiring Horse near the end but other subs Neil Smith and Peter Beardsley where not needed.
Fulham team: Taylor(7) Caught crosses with ease, no real chance with either goal - Uhlenbeek(5) Did some really neat things but some really daft things too - Brevett(6) Usual Rufus putting himself about, got stupidly booked however - Morgan(6) Nice goal but gives away too many free kicks around the area for my liking - Symons(7) Very tidy game - Coleman(8) Won everything - Bracewell(8) Neat and tidy, very influencial in the win - Collins(7) Ran everywhere, sometimes I thought there was two of him! - Hayward(7) Another performance that says he cannot be left out - Horsfield(8) Scored one, made one, say no more - Peschisolido(8) Running on and off the ball Pesh is always a problem.
Overall performance(8) TFI MoM: A very difficult one but Paul Bracewell shaded it for me.
Blackpool v Fulham match preview
After a tough mid-week match at Anfield Fulham get back to serious matters in the League at Bloomfield Road this weekend. Paul Bracewell and Geoff Horsfield are expected to be added to the squad that travelled to Merseyside and boss Kevin Keegan has said that he'll be present albeit probably only in the stands.
You'll remember that Blackpool was the scene of one of last years worst performances - the whites taking a lead through Chris Coleman but capitulating in the second period to eventually go down 2-1. Not a day to remember.
This time however, we're made of different stuff and Blackpool, whilst capable, are nothing to fear. Paul Peschisolido should partner Horsfield for the first time (and what a combination it could prove to be) with Dirk Lehmann earning a well earned rest.
I expect us to stick with nine of Tuesdays starting eleven with Paul Bracewell slotting in for youngster Sean Davis being the only other change.
Let's hope the weather holds off the the massive support expected - another 2,000 or so tavelling whites fans who'll be expecting Fulham to apply further pressure on the top two.
If the lads can carry on as they have been then I see nothing to stop us coming away with a handsome 0-4 victory.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Morgan, Coleman, Collins, Bracewell, Hayward, Peschisolido, Horsfield.
Subs: Beardsley, Salako, Neilson.
Fulham v Walsall match report
Fulham 4 Walsall 1 - a great win for the lads as the wind and rain swept across Craven Cottage. Fulham where always the better side and took control of the game early on. Paul Peschisolido gave the Sadlers defence an early headache with his darting runs and pace, then on 29 minutes that drop of the shoulder proved too much for Walsall and Pesh struck superbly from the edge of the box to put Fulham 1-0 up.
Fulham had other chances to go further ahead, Steve Hayward shot high and wide from a free kick and again Pesh had sight of the goal but this time he pushed the ball wide.
The second half brightened up a very wet day and on the hour Steve Haywards corner was met by the on coming Kit Symons whose run and header where simply superb, 2-0.
Walsall pulled a goal back in the 71st minute through a Chris Marsh free kick that took a wicked deflection giving Maik Taylor absolutely no chance whatsoever as the ball sneaked in past his left hand side.
This served only to fire Fulham up further and on 75 minutes Steve Hayward restored our two goal advantage with a stunning free kick form just outside the area, Paul Bracewell touched the ball to Hayward who Placed the ball Beckham style into the top right hand corner of the net.
Geoff Horsfield replaced Paul Peshcisolido and the Horse marked his debut with an absolutely superbly taken goal after a lovely cross from Gus Uhlenbeek, Horsfield beat one player, edged into the box and seemed to stop and chip the advancing keeper from about 8 yards. Brilliant!
Walsall then had a player sent off on 86 minutes for a second bookable offence and the whites where home, but certainly not dry...
Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor(8) Took his crosses superbly and held onto everything in very slippery conditions. Uhlenbeek(6) Poor defesive display but good going forward. Brevett(7) Solid, better performance than the last two games. Symons(8) Just keeps getting better, worth at least a million! Coleman(8) Another Cookie performance, solid. Morgan(7) Typical Morgs, battled in the rain. Bracewell(8) His best game for ages I felt. Collins(7) Ran all day, quality passing and battling. Hayward(8) Great strike, even better celebration and worked hard. Lehmann(7) Worked hard for Pesh and seems to be finding out how to play in a team rather than for himself. A good display. Peschisolido(7) Great pace, gave them problems, nice goal, shame he has to dive so much.
Subs: Horsfield(8) Took him 5 minutes to show us he's going to be a star. Smith(only on for a couple of minutes) Not used:Beardsley.
MoM: Phew! Er... A three way split, Hayward, Symons and Pesh.
Fulham v Walsall match preview
Yet another vital game at the cottage, they're coming thick and fast these days and another bumper crowd is expected to see Fulham's bid to overtake near rivals Walsall.
Walsall are this seasons suprise package and all credit to them for the magnificent start. The Sadlers signed striker Andy Rammell from Southend United at the end of last season and he can't stop scoring at them moment and will be one to keep a close eye on.
Strangely enough, since losing their two best players in Boli and Peron, Walsall have actually improved? Funny old game eh?
I believe we need to start the game as fast and as furious as possible putting Walsall under early pressure. Give them time to settle and they will frustrate and look to hit us on the break.
New boy Geoff Horsfield is expected to make his debut alongside Paul Peschisolido and for the first time this season, I'm actually excited about our prospects up front. I firmly believe these two can forge a devastating partnership.
It doesn't matter how other results go at the weekend, if we win, that table is going to look mighty attactive with those two games in hand. Let's hope the lads have learnt their Luton lessons.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Collins, Beardsley, Hayward, Horsfield, Peschisolido.
Subs: Lehmann, Smith, Neilson. TFI prediction: 3-0 for Fulham.
Millwall v Fulham match report
A fantastic three points earned as Fulham cruised to a 0-1 win at the New Den this afternoon in front of 11,876 - 1,889 from Fulham.
Paul Peschisolido made a welcome return to first team action, in fact this was his first start of the new season, and Paul ran the Millwall defence ragged for most of the first half.
On 6 minutes he played a neat 1/2 with Paul Bracewell who also had an excellent game in midfield, took the ball wide left and his shot went ever so close at the far post.
On 15 minutes Pesh headed on a long pass into the path of Dirk Lehmann who's snap shot was suprebly saved by the Millwall keeper - on 23 minutes Fulham could well have had a penalty, Paul Peschisolido involved again, this time cutting in to the box after a superb dummy left the Millwall defender for dead and just as he appeared to be inside the box he was brought down but sadly the referee judged the offence to be just outside the area.
The game then got slightly out of hand as Millwall seemed unable to cope with Fulhams superior talents, Jamie Stewart was sent off after two bookable offences and a further 5 Millwall players saw yellow.
Pesh then had a left footed shot that went just wide shortly before the break and the half time whistle went at 0-0.
The second period started as it finished with Fulham having 90% of the play, Millwall never threatening our goal with anything that looked very dangerous although Maik Taylor pulled off two super saves that would have been ruled out for offside in any event.
On 49 minutes Dirk Lehmann went close from a Kit Symons cross, on 50 minutes Pesh wormed his way thru a couple of defenders but again his shot went just wide.
On 65 mins Lehmann then had another chance and things looked to be heading for a frustrating 0-0 draw when Kevin Keegan decided to introduce Gus Uhlenbeek for the tired Wayne Collins and hopefully expose the space vacated by the earlier sending off.
Gus then took the bull by the horns, taking his chance well with some great pacey runs down the right and on 83 minutes a cross by Gus spun across the face of the goal - Rufus Brevett met the ball and smashed a left footed shot against the foot of the post which unfortunatley bounced away to safety. Paul Pesh then went close again whilst Simon Morgan had a decent effort saved - then came the winner we so much deserved on 89 minutes, a corner on the left was quickly taken by Steve Hayward, short to Peter Beardsley who's cross was cleared then the ball came back into the box and Kit Symons headed in a great header that looped over the keeper to send the Fulham fans wild.
All in all then a superb win, some neat football and I'd say we kinda thrashed them 0-1.
Oh, and welcome back PESH!
Fulham team: Taylor(7) Not much to do but did it well, his goal celebration was pure class! Morgan(7) A battling and confident return to the team - Brevett(6) Not the best of games but worked hard as usual. - Symons(8) Just keeps getting better and better - Coleman(8) Pure class, makes the hard things look easy and is so good on the ball - Collins(6) Not one of Wayne's greatest performances - Bracewell(7) Superb midfield display, worked his socks off - Beardsley(6) Passing was poor, needs replacing for a goalscoring midfielder - Hayward(7) Good contribution although looks unable to score any goals - Lehmann(7) Came close twice and took loads of stick, did well not to get involved - Peschisolido(8) Pace worried Millwall all day, great to have him back.
Subs: Uhlenbeek(7) Good runs and crossing. Not used: Brooker and Smith.
Overall performance(8) TFI MoM: Kit Symons
Millwall v Fulham match preview
Fulham bid to get back onto winning ways after the horrendous performance at home to Luton Town nearly two weeks ago.
Paul Peschisolido, John Salako and Simon Morgan are all back in contention for this important encounter with our London rivals.
With Pesh fit again, you'd imagine that Kevin Keegan will be tempted to use him from the off with probably, Dirk Lehmann as the centre forward. That however, would leave two ageing midfielders in Beardo and Brace and this is where we fell down against Luton Town.
It's possible that KK will use Pesh as sub (again) although this will not please the Fulham faithful who are desperate to see our top striker back in the first team fold.
Keegans other option is to go all out attack and play Beardo or Pesh, sitting just behind the front two. Now that's a better proposition.
It could of course, all hang on the fitness of John Salako. If Salako is fit then I can't see Beardsley and Pesh starting.
It's really vital that we get all three points on Saturday and I have a feeling that Millwall, without Paul Shaw, will feel the full force of Fulham's determination to start the ball rolling again.
TFI Prediction: 0-3 to Fulham.
Likely Fulham team: Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Collins, Bracewell, Hayward, Salako, Beardsley, Lehmann.
Subs: Trollope, Neilson, Peschisolido.
The Fulham v Luton Town match report appeared on the main news page
Fulham v Luton Town match preview
Fulham take on a Luton side that started the season well but have faded a little in the league over the last couple of weeks.
A good Worthington Cup victory over 1st division Ipswich Town will have done their confidence no harm but manager Lennie Lawrence has one or two injury doubts. The main stay of the Hatters team this season are made up from last years relegation threatened side with some youngsters that have worked their way into first team reckoning.
It's been a tough fortnight for Fulham who have battled their way past Southampton (twice), Lincoln and Wycombe. After this weekend we go two weeks without a match and the players will surely welcome the rest.
Once again Fulham look set to be without John Salako and Pesh who are making slower than anticipated progress from injuries whilst young Sean Davies hopes to keep his place after a solid mid-week display.
Sean's inclusion in the first team is a sign of the the strength in our squad with Welsh International Paul Trollope left kicking his heels.
One feels that this will be our last game without the services of some real quality front men and it's vital we nick another three points keeping us in the top three.
I'm taking Fulham to steamroll a Luton side who've been found out after a good start, but only if they're prepared to work very hard again.
TFI prediction: Whites to win 3-1
Likely Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Neilson, Coleman, Symons, Bracewell, Hayward, Collins, Lehmann, Beardsley.
Fulham v Wycombe Wanderers match report
Fulham edged into joint second place, just three points behind leaders Stoke City with a comprehensive, if sometimes below par performance this evening.
In fairness, it must have been difficult to raise the game against such poor opposition, lowly Wycombe look destined for the drop if tonight provides evidence of things to come.
Fulham started the game on top and spent the entire 90 minutes trying to fathom out a way past Goalkeeper Martin Taylor who played a blinder, denying Fulham on numerous occassions.
Chris Coleman headed home is 4th of the season from a Stevie Hayward cross on 18 minutes and from then on it was really just a matter of how many Fulham could add to the total.
Fulham had further chances in the first half which saw Simon Morgan marking his 300th appearance with an unfortunate injury (although it didn't look too serious)
The second period saw Fulham sustain their pressure and dominace, Alan Neilson replaced Morgan at the break and on 65 minutes Fulham went further ahead when Rob Scott was judged to have been fouled on the edge of the box. Being fair to Wycombe the incident took place right in front of us in the enclosure and the referee made a mistake as Scott clearly took a tumble all by himself.
Steve Hayward shot in from the resulting free kick and Paul Bracewell hammered home from the edge of the box, although the ball did seem to take a deflection.
Wycombe had a player sent off just to finish their miserable night off, again I thought the lad was a little unlucky as although he clearly fould Brevett, he clearly made a fair attempt at winning the ball and a free kick was probably all that was required.
Fulham had a further three good chances late on, Kit Symons, Rufus Brevett and sub Luke Cornwall all had efforts well saved by Taylor again.
Fulham team: Taylor(8) Made three god saves and did everything right tonight. - Wayne Collins(8) Superb running and tracking back. - Brevett(7) Good attacking play, will be pleased to see the return of Salako. - Morgan(6)Unfortunate injury but did ok - Coleman(8) A rock once again and a goal to top it - Paul Bracewell(7) Another good performance - Beardsley(7) Fine passing and good attacking play - Hayward (7) Great goal line clearance but passing sometimes short or over hit - Sean Davies(7) One for the future, huge potential - Rob Scott(6) A hand in both goals but playing above his station I'm afraid.
Subs: Neilson(7) Going to make Simons job of getting his place back hard - Cornwall(5) Needs to learn the offside rule fast - Uhlenbeek(6) Coople of neat runs.
Fulham v Wycombe Wanderers match preview
After our first win at Sincil Bank for some forty years, Fulham bid to extend their run with a win over lowly Wycombe at the Cottage this Tuesday.
On paper at least, Wycombe seem to have little chance of stopping us getting within three points of leaders Stoke City but this is football and any hint of complacency from the team could spell disaster.
By all accounts, Wycombe were a tad unfortunate to lose last weekend with a 90th minute penalty being awarded against them. They're due for some luck and some points so it's vital that the boys go into this one fully fired up and prepared to give it nothing less than 100%
Paul Peschisolido and John Salako could both be set for a return although whether either man makes it into the starting eleven will depend on how confident KK is about their fitness. A place on the bench looks most likely for both players. Rob Scott may well start tomorrow with Dirk Lehmann seemingly having trouble getting to grips with playing more than once a week and the formation will probably be revert back to a 4-4-2.
If Fulham get off to the right start then a hammering could be on the cards, but I believe Wycombe are a far better outfit than their current position would have us believe and that one goal might well have to be enough.
Whatever, the only thing that matters is three points and I'm taking Fulham to win, suprisingly perhaps by the odd goal 1-0.
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Collins, Hayward, Uhlenbeek, Beardsley, Scott:
Subs bench: Pesh, Salako and Neilson.
Lincoln v Fulham match report
Fulham first win at Sincil Bank for many years was earned through sheer guts and determination this afternoon.
After our mid-week win at Southampton many thought that lowly Lincoln would prove a stroll in the park but in all honesty, we were lucky to go in on level terms at half time with Colin Alcide going very close in the first couple of minutes and another chance a couple of mintus later also had the Fulham defence in a panic but Maik Taylor made a good save.
Kit Symons then made a last ditched tackle to deny the dangerous looking Alcide again and then Fulhams only real chance of the first period came when the superb Steve Hayward through in a great cross to the far post but Simon Morgans header from just a yard or so out went wide of the goal.
They say that a good manager earns his salt with his half time team talk and KK came up trumps today. Dirk Lehmann who was having an off day was substituted at half time for Rob Scott and the boys looked different gear in the second period and it was just two minutes after the break when Fulham took the lead.
Former Fulham loanee Charlie Hartfield passed back to the goalkeeper who strangely picked up the ball only for the referee to give an indirect free kick to Fulham right inside the penalty area.
Peter Beardsley received a quick pass and his shot hit and spun over the wall and into the back of the net.
As the game wore on Fulham slowly took control with their neat passing game that was by now, slowly coming together and Beardo went close again a short time later with another neat shot that was just wide of the post.
Fulham added to their lead on 63 when Wayne Collins rounded the City keeper who brought down Wayne but the referee played the advantage as Rob Scott floated the ball goalbound only for a defender to make a goal line clearance. The ball came back almost straight away this time to Beardo who neatly slotted the ball home from into the bottom corner of the net.
Lincoln scored around the 75th minute to give us a late scare, a superb cross was met by the head of John Whitney who nodded home from close range, nobody to blame, just a neat goal.
Fulham had to soak up some late pressure from the home side but this time the defence held on to the lead.
All in all then a decent second half performance and three points gratefully received. Not the most inspiring of games, to be honest we were lucky to go in 0-0 at half time and at the end of the day many neutrals might have said that a draw would have been a fair result.
Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor(7) Get off the blokes back, did ok today - Uhlenbeek(6) Must take people on more - Brevett(7) Usual Rufus - Morgan(7) Did his usual stuff - Coleman(8) A rock in the second half - Symons(8) There's a lot of good football in this player and again today he was superb - Collins(7) Ran his socks off again, good attacking midfield play - Bracewell(7) Calmed things down when needed - Lehmann(5) Hardly noticed he was playing - Beardsley(8) Two goals and another convincing display - Hayward(9) Has learned to battle and chase, now Steve is becoming the complete player.
Subs: Not used: Neilson and Trollope. Used: Scott(7) His pace made the difference.
Overall performance(6) MoM Steve Hayward.
Lincoln City v Fulham match preview
Fulham desperatley need to beat lowly Lincoln if we're to keep pace with second division leaders Stoke City.
After our fabulous win on Wednesday night, training has been relatively light and both John Salako and Paul Peschisolido are back in first team contention although boss KK may decide to give both and extra few days just to make sure.
Gus Uhlenbeek and Wayne Collins both left the field early against Southampton after knocks and they must also be in doubt to start the match. Hopefully, Collins in particular will be available but we'll just have to wait and see.
Lincoln have had a rough time since their promotion. All reports suggest that they are indeed a poor side and one reporter who I know said that if we thought they were bad under John Beck, they're even worse now!
Sincil Bank has never been a happy hunting ground for us and they always, somehow, manage to make life difficult up there.
Having said that, if our players legs aren't too tired after a tough mid-week battle and if we can nick an early goal, then there really shouldn't be too many problems.
I'm looking forward to the boys going out and showing the World that we can beat the poorer teams just as easily as the better ones. Let's hope they can...
TFI prediction: Fulham on a roll with a 1-2 win
Fulham v York City match report
As Fulham suddenly find some goal scoring form the defence decided to have an off day and conceed three times.
To their credit, York never gave up even after going down to ten men when Barry Jones was dismissed for a second bookable offence (and plenty of mouth thrown in just to make sure) on 51 minutes.
Of course by then the game was nicely balanced after Luke Cornwall had struck his first senior goal for the club and Chris Coleman had nodded home to put us 1-0 and 2-1 up respectively.
Sandwiched in between, York had equalised with a neat free kick (which should never have been) and a glancing header put the Minster Men level at 2-2.
The sending off followed and a tactical change from York worked a treat as Rodney Rowe came on and run us ragged down the left hand side.
This resulted in the late equaliser but even then Fulham had the chance to snatch all three points but Paul Brooker, brought on as a sub, failed miserably to make the most of two brilliant opportunities right at the death. All in all then a very disappointing performance and one which we cannot afford to repeat too often this season if our dreams are to become reality.
Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor(5) Probably the unluckiest keeper I've ever seen - Collins(7) Runs his heart out wherever you ask him to play - Brevett(6) Not one of his better games - Morgan(7) Gutsy as always - Coleman(7) Another goal but might have been at fault for one of the goals - Symons (8) Getting better and better and scored too - Bracewell(5) Age is not catching up with him, it's slowy overtaking - Beardsley(5) See Bracewell - Hayward(5) Too many long passes that fall short, shooting is awful - Lehmann(5) Third division player at best - Cornwall(8) Run his young heart out, a poachers goal and an even better celebration.
MoM: Kit Symons.
Overall performance (6)
Fulham v York City - match preview
The most worrying aspect about this match is that nobody seems to give York a prayer. To the contrary, they are doing rather well and a quick glance at the league tables should be enough to warn us that a team that's just three points behind and that's already notched up two away wins, won't be a push over by any means.
They've scored three more goals than us and have played the same number of games too. Not as easy as it might sound huh?
Alan Little (Stoke's Brian Little's Brother) has put together a solid team based on hard work and team spirit. They'll be happy being underdogs and can come to Fulham with little to lose. There's no pressure on them to win.
For us, amazingly, it seems we shall still be without a goalscorer of any pedigree and Dirk Lehmann and young Luke Cornwall look set to keep their places with no competition available.
The eminant signing of French striker Didier Martel can't happen quickly enough but it's looking increasingly unlikely that he'll be available this weekend.
New signing Kevin Betsy may figure on the bench whilst John Salako is still very doubtful with the calf injury that's kept him out for two games already.
So a tough battle looks to be in store and again we're left wondering where the goals are going to come from. Let's hope they do...
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Beardsley, Collins, Hayward, Cornwall, Lehmann.
Subs: Betsy, Neilson, Trollope.
TFI prediction: A fingernail bitting 1-0 victory.
NOTTS COUNTY v FULHAM match report
Fulham shot themselves in the foot this afternoon after going down to Notts County, their first home league win of the season.
Injuries to John Salako, Paul Peschisolido and Paul Moody meant that Fulham were without probably at least two of our most influencial players yet let's take nothing away from County who fully deserved their three points for a battling and performance not without any skill.
The first half was pretty dire in all fairness with Fulham having just one clear chance on 44 minutes when Dirk Lehmann broke free and with all the time in the world chose to shoot straight at Keeper Darren Ward who parried the Germans shot and saved the rebound superbly.
Lehmann's terrible miss was to be more costly than we could have imagined as straight from the goal kick County took the lead when Maik Taylor was caught wrong footed as the ball cut across both he and a Fulham defender and Shaun Murrey easily placed his header into the goal in front of the 2,000 Fulham fans.
A terrible blow then right on half time and KK obviously gave the side another of his half time team talks as Fulham started the second period a lot brighter.
Wayne Collins was running himself into the ground whilst I thought Paul Bracewell had a better game again today.
Chances were now being created and again Dirk Lehmann missed a golden opportunity to bring the scores level but again scuffed his shot wide when it seemed easier to hit the target at least.
Steve Hayward then had a shot wide and toward the end of the game with about 13 minutes left KK finally made the decision we were all waiting for when substituting Peter Beardsley for young Luke Cornwall.
As soon as Cornwall came on he had the County defence in trouble, and within seconds, with virtually his first touch of the ball flicked a neat header goalbound but his effort was kicked off the line.
A couple of minutes later Lehmann missed wildly again and then Luke Cornwall received the ball on his left foot, spun and snapped in a superb 20 yard drive that brought the save of the game from County's MoM keeper Ward.
So three points most definately lost, the referee didn't do us any favours with two good penatly appeals turned down (one on Cornwall looked a cert?)
Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor(6) May have been at fault for the goal but I'd like to see it on TV again first.
Uhlenbeek(4) Waste of time, where's the pace? and I thought he liked to take people on? As for being a defender, forget it.
Brevett(6) Did ok, worked hard but did nothing special.
Symons, Morgan and Coleman (all 7) a sold enough performance with Morgan probably being the pick of the three. All did ok however with no complaints and Symons hacked one off the line.
Bracewell(6) Worked hard, no complaints.
Hayward(6) Same again, worked well enough although I wish he'd do some shooting practice.
Beardsley(4) Awfull. Sorry, it has to be said.
Lehmann(4) Not the answer - has been found out.
Collins MoM (8) Worked till he dropped, a 100% player.
Overall performance (6)
NOTTS COUNTY v FULHAM match preview
After our excellent mid-week win over Stoke City the real acid test surely starts tomorrow. After all, Championships are won at places like Notts County and Colchester and not against the Man City's and Stoke's of this world.
Being 'up' for the big games is all very well. But the boys must (and surely will) approach each game as their biggest of the season so far.
For Fulham the big blow is of course the injuries to Paul Moody and Paul Peschisolido. Dirk Lehamann and Peter Beardsley therefore look certain to start up front in the same partnership that tore Man City apart a few short weeks ago.
The only other injury worry is John Salako who looked to have a damaged foot when coming off against Stoke. Hopefully it was just a knock and he'll be fit to take his place.
Once again, KK must choose whether to stick to 4-4-2 or the more defensive 3-5-2 system which has been favoured away from the Cottage. I believe with the squad in confident mood, that a 4-4-2 will be adopted as Fulham look to hit County hard from the start.
Notts County, yet to win at home in the league, will be desperate to open their account in front of the home fans. Fulham old boy Sean Farrell has been unable to command a first team place recently but County might feel that playing against his old club might be the spur required and I wouldn't be suprised if he played.
So a difficult fixture once again but after Tuesday showing I cannot see anything other than a positive result even though we still look short in the forward line.
I'm going for a 0-1 win as once again our defensive qualities shine through.
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Hayward, Collins, Salako, Lehmann, Beardsley.
Subs: Cornwall, Uhlenbeek, Neilson.
FULHAM v STOKE CITY match report
Fulham totally dominated against a Stoke side that had managed to win their previous 6 games and right from the off our superior passing was in evidence.
Fulham suffered an early set back as Paul Moody joined Paul Peschisolido on the injured list, Dirk Lehmann replacing big Paul on 4 minutes.
Early attempts from Paul Bracewell and Dirk Lehmann was followed by a Kit Symons header cleared off the line. A Stevie Hayward rocket from 30 yards then crashed against the crossbar at the Putney end as Stoke came under intense pressure but Fulham failing to find that cutting edge to give us a well deserved lead.
So 0-0 at half time then and on 55 minutes came one of two frights for Fulham as Kit Symons appeared to bundle over Peter Thorne for what looked like a good shout for a penalty but the referee who was right on the spot saw otherwise.
The same player then broke clean through minutes later but appeared to panic at the last moment and blazed his shot high and wide in front of the excellent Maik Taylor.
Just five minutes later Fulham took the lead after a cracking move on the left started by Paul Bracewell who passed on to Rufus Brevett who took the ball superbly on his left foot and then smashed the ball past Muggleton in the Stoke goal.
The 12,055 crowd were now on their feet and supporting the team with great vocal support with signing all around the ground.
Peter Beardsley and Dirk Lehmann both had chances late on but a 1-0 win was enough and really Stoke looked pretty ordinary to me.
Fulham team: Taylor(8) - Morgan(8) - Brevett(7) - Symons(8) - Coleman(8)- Collins(7) - Bracewell(7) - Salako(7) - Hayward (8) - Moody (Went off to early) - Beardsley(7)
Subs: Lehmann(6) - Davis(6) - Uhlenbeek(6) all used. Overall performance(8)
FULHAM v STOKE CITY match preview
It's very early, but this game really is a six pointer with Stoke City already pulling away from the pack (This being written before the weekends matches) Five league wins from five games and 12 goals scored points to Stoke being a bit on the awesome side. The good news however, is that they like to conceed a goal as well with 4 put past them in the league plus few more in the Worthington Cup.
Stoke keeper Carl Muggleton has had rave reviews and has apparently been playing out of his skin whilst front men Kavanagh (5 goals) and Crowe (4 goals) look to be on fire.
If it's true that Muggleton has been playing so well, the fact that Stoke have conceeded so many goals points to an extremely dodgy defence? Let's hope so...
Four our part we must hope that Chris Coleman and Kit Symons and Maik Taylor return from International duty in one piece and that KK decides that now is the time to give Paul Peschisolido his first start of the season.
Pesh of course is a former Stoke player and old players have a habit of haunting their old clubs. He simply must play.
Dirk Lehmann was 'rested' against Oldham as Manager Kevin Keegan said he looked 'tired' against Bournemouth last week, but he could also return, on the subs bench at least.
Peter Beardsley may drop back into midfield and Paul Bracewell must surely be looking over his shoulder with a fit again Paul Trollope ready to challenge for his place.
A tough one to call yet again and another big Craven Cottage crowd is expected with something like 2,000 travelling fans from the midlands.
I believe the big games brings the best from our team and that come the final whistle, yet another lesson will have been served upon the so called favourites after a 2-0 win for Fulham.
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Collins, Bracewell, Beardsley, Salako, Peschisolido, Moody.
Oldham Athletic 1 v 1 Fulham match report
As the Fulham players left the field today they gathered around the officials still complaining bitterly about Mark Allots 61st minute equaliser which they thought was well offside.
This came after Paul Moody had given us a 61st minute lead when John Salako crossed in from the left hand side for Moody to place a neat downward header into the corner of the net sending the 650 travelling Fulham fans wild with delight.
Kevin Keegan made one change from Saturdays team with Moody coming in for Dirk Lehmann who didn't even have a place on the bench today, whilst we also stuck with our 4-4-2 formation, the first time KK has used this tactic away from home so far.
Both teams lacked invention during the first 45 minutes but the second half was far more entertaining with both teams creating more as space appeared.
Kit Symons had a goal dissalowed shortly before Moody out us ahead them came Oldhams controversial equaliser. After that Fulham had a couple of further chances to take all three points but by now the referee and linesman had already lost control of the game and he seemed happy to get the game over with as soon as possible.
No players were booked from either side although Oldhams no 8 and our Wayne Collins were both lucky to stay on the field of play.
Fulham team: Taylor(7) - Morgan(7) - Brevett(6) - Symons(7) - Coleman(7) - Bracewell(5) - Hayward(6) - Collins(7) - Salako(6) - Moody(7) - Beardsley(5)
Subs not used: Neilson and Uhlenbeek, sub used: Peschisolido(6) for Salako.
MoM: Wayne Collins (Just about) Overall performance(6)
Oldham Athletic v Fulham match preview
If you consider that between them, Fulham and Bournemouth have so far, conceeded just one league goal in eight league games I suppose Saturdays 0-0 draw might not have come as much of a suprise?
Oldham however have been leaking goals left right and centre with 8 conceeded in their four league games, it's this statistic that may well see KK stick with a more adventerous 4-4-2 formation rather than the away 5-3-2 that has proven successful at both Macclesfield and Colchester.
Like i've said numerous times before it's difficult (at the moment at least) to safely predict what KK will come up with and after Saturday's less than entertaining performance one or two players could well be looking over their shoulders.
It's vital that we keep in touch with the top two places and Stoke face a difficult trip to Colchester as we travel up the dreaded M6.
I think Steve Hayward may face the chop and surely Paul Peschisolido must start for the first time this season? but I'll be suprised if Keegan drops his favourite Son Peter Beardsley to make way? We'll see...
TFI prediction: Whites back on song 2-1
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Collins, Salako, Peschisolido, Beardsley, Uhlenbeek.
Fulham 0 v 0 Bournemouth match report
I suppose, as 0-0 draws go, this wasn't a bad spectacle. But for the crowd of 12,107 the frustration factor started to creep in before the half time whistle as it became apparent early on that Bournemouth had come for the draw.
As it happens, this spoiled the game because there's no doubt they are a decent side (top six like I predicted before the season started) and they could have even won if they'd bothered to try. Instead they settled for playing on the break and concentrated in having at least five men behind the ball most of the time. Frustrating indeed, although not it appeared for their fans who thought they'd just won the FA Cup by gaining one point and fewer freinds.
For our part, the only real decent chance of the first half came when Simon Morgan hit what looked like a very specualtive shot from some 40 yards out which dipped viciously at the last moment and came back off the crossbar.
In truth, that was about as near as we would come for the entire 90 minutes of breaking the deadlock.
Without wanting to sound like I'm backtracking, I said before the season started that we hadn't got enough fire power to win promotion outright. I didn't rate Dirk Lehmann but he did well agains Man City and made be eat my words... but in fairness he's done little since to prove me wrong. Fact is, we lack a 20 goals a season striker and that's not good enough.
Pesh was again left on the subs bench??? and when he did come on during the second half he looked off the pace. Moody also came on but again he couldn't catch the game up and looked poor.
I thought Wayne Collins had another good game today winning everything and working his socks off
(what was that idiot behind me on about when he shouted "Move Collins you lazy bastard)??? Some people haven't got a clue about football and I wish they'd stay away.
So really not much to tell about the game as a spectacle - the result tells it's own story and apart from two further half chances and a couple of turned down penalty appeals in the second half, little else to report. All in all, not the sort of performance that'll have the extra fans that appeared today clambering back for more. Shame...
Fulham team: Taylor(7) Did well in the air one good save - Morgan(8) Created our only real chance and dug in - Brevett(6) Had a tough battle with Ian Cox and lost - Symons(7) Steady game did well - Coleman(8) Another typical Cookie performance - Bracewell(6) Gave far too much away today and I'm starting to lose confidence in him - Hayward(6) Can't say I remember him doing anything good or bad, very ordinary today - Salako (7) Neat crosses, good turn of pace did ok - Collins (8) Worked like crazy - Lehmann(5) Sorry, on this performance he was a flash in the pan - Beardsley(6) Gave the ball away far too often and twice very badly. Looks like age might be catching up with him.
Subs: Moody(5)Poor - for Lehmann + Peschisolido (6) Needs to learn to pass but it might help if he was on for more than 15 minutes. For Salakon.
MoM: Wayne Collins
Final thought on todays game: Thought the ref was absolute crap again. The Bournemouth keeper must have wasted ten minutes thru the game at goal kicks and the ref blew right on time? No Injury time whatsoever and not a single caution or word about the timewasting...
Fulham v Bournemouth match preview
Before a ball was kicked in anger I said that Bournemouth would present the suprise package in division two this season. Results so far have backed up my theory that the Cherries will feature in the top six come May.
They have what all good team require, a good spine right down the middle. Ian Cox is probably the best centre half in the division apart from our own Chris Coleman and in Steve Robinson they have a quality midfielder who scores goals like a centre forward.
Up front, they have Mark Stein who's sure to get a famous Craven Cottage welcome being an ex-Chelsea player.
Is all this sounds a trifle pessimistic then the good new is that we seem to fair better against sides that want to play football - and Bournemouth unquestionably fall into the category.
KK has selection and formation problems but I expect the return of Paul Peschisolido and Wayne Collins to the starting eleven after combining to score the winner at Colchester United.
It seems clear that KK is prepared to switch formations as and when required and I can't imagine anything but a 4-4-2 (possibly even a 4-3-3) at home.
All the first team squad are desperate to start and once in, it's then up to them to keep the shirt with a solid performance. Simon Morgan is the perfect example.
I'm predicting that this will be one of the best games we'll see at Craven Cottage this season with both teams looking to keep the ball on the floor. If Bournemouth try and play us on the break they could end up on the wrong end of a hiding - their best chance is to do the opposite and take the game to us, attack being the best form of defence.
I believe this is our sternest test to date and if we can come through this match unscathed then surely nothing and nobody can stop our march to glory?
Likely Fulham team: (4-4-2) Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Bracewell, Collins, Hayward, Salako, Lehmann, Peschisolido.
Subs: Beardsley, Neilson, Trollope. TFI prediction: A hard earned 2-1 win for Fulham.
Colchester United 0 v 1 Fulham match report
Fulham ground out a superb win at Layer Road this afternoon, a ground where we had never previously managed to win a league match.
The game started with immediate Fulham pressure as Dirk Lehmann went close in the 1st and 4th minutes, the first effort a cracking lob which went just wide and the second attempt a header which the keeper did well to save.
The game was held up for 15 minutes due to crowd congestion and traffic problems in the surrounding area but this didn't dull the tense atmosphere inside Layer Road as both teams knew a win would probably take them to the top of division two.
After those early chances we fell away a little and there's no doubting that Colchester are a difficult bunch to deal with. There tactics are simple... get the ball into the box at all cost and at every opportunity, preferably to Mark Sale their 6'5" centre foward.
This caused us a few problems and on 13 minutes Sale managed to beat Chris Coleman in the air and his header was met by David Green who poked the ball into the Fulham net. Thankfully both Green and at least one other United player were clearly offside and the goal was rightly ruled out.
Fulham had a couple more half decent chances during that first period with Peter Beardsley and John Salako going close but the game was basically about Colchester getting the ball forward very quickly and missing out the middle of the park. This gave us a few headaches but nothing to really concern ourselves with.
The second half saw long periods where United had the ball but they never really looked capable of doing anything with it. Their passing was poor but ours wasn't much better today. Manager KK made a substitution on 62 minutes when John Salako was somewhat suprisingly swapped for Wayne Collins. I think many of the fans around me wondered why KK had made this switch but in all fairness to Keegan the tactical change had an immediate effect as Collins beefed up the midfield and won just about everything that came his way.
The game now seemed to be swinging Fulhams way a little and then on 78 minutes KK made a double substitution, bringing on Paul Peschisolido and Paul Moody for Lehmann and Beardsley.
The further changes enhanced the balance of the side even further and an indication of the eventual outcome came on 78 minutes when a super ball by Moody sent Wayne Collins through to lob Keeper Emberson but this too was rulued out for offside. Many felt however that when Collins started his run he was infact clearly on side?
Our goal came on 82 minutes after Steve Hayward sent Paul Peschisolido on a run down the right hand side, A united player seemed to be all over Pesh like a nasty rash when Pesh appeared to give him a little shove in return. The United players appealed for the foul but neither the referee nor linesman, both of whom had a perfect view of the tussle, gave the foul.
Pesh then cut inside into the penalty area squared the ball for the on rushing Collins who smashed the ball past the keeper right in front of the 1100 travelling Fulham fans.
Radio Essex made much out of the incident with Pesh but this happened right in front of me and I thought their player had actually fouled Pesh before Pesh stuck up for himself in a clear 50-50 challenge.
A totally satisfactory performance from the lads today, Colchester is a rotten place from top to bottom and the pitch wasn't in as good a condition (already) as it could have been whilst I think I'm right in saying that it's also one of the most narrow playing surfaces in the country.
This was a fixture that I had dreaded to be honest and I always thought a point would do us here. We ended up with all three and and it's no more than the lads deserved.
Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor(7) - Uhlenbeek(5) - Brevett(6) - Morgan(8) - Symons(8) - Coleman(8) - Beardsley(6) - Bracewell(6) - Salako(7) - Lehmann(7) - Hayward(7) - SUBS: Collins(9) - Moody(7) - Peschisolido(8)
MoM: Difficult today. I thought the three centre halves all did well and were candidates. But I'm giving it to Wayne Collins, who scored the winner, had one dissalowed and fought for every scrap of the ball.
Over all performance(7)
Colchester United v Fulham match preview
Four wins from four games and Fulham are on a roll... But being Fulham fans that gut feeling of impending disaster is always never too far away!
Colchester too have started very brightly and a very good win indeed against Bournemouth on Tuesday evening is evidence enough that Saturday won't be a stroll in the park by any means.
In fact, Colchester are a bit of a bogey team to Fulham. The last time I remember seeing us win there was some years ago in a cup competition of some kind and I think Gary Brazil scored a couple? It was a long time ago whatever.
It's becoming increasingly harder to read KK's mind these days. 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 5-3-2 have all been (successfully) used and it's difficult to forecast his formation for this top of the table clash.
In a way, we've been unlucky with our opening fixtures. Historically teams promoted/relegated usually start off well, so having to meet two of the four that came up and two of the four that came down, all in the space of a month was never going to be easy.
Colchester have been scoring a number of goals and look sound enough in the forward department to give us some problems if we're not at our defensive best.
We seem capable of beating just about anyone these days and our biggest enemy could be ourselves. It's absolutely vital that KK has the boys sufficiently fired up because there's no doubt that a fired up Fulham will beat a Colchester side no matter what they can trhow at us.
All Fulhams 1300 odd tickets have been sold and fantastic support can be expected once again from the black and white army.
I'd love to think that our winning run can continue and gain momentum but Layer Road is a horrible place and I just get the feeling that come the final whistle our unbeaten run will be intact but only just.
TFI prediction: A 1-1 draw.
Likely Fulham team: 4-4-2: Taylor, Morgan, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Salako, Bracewell, Beardsley, Lehmann, Peschisolido, Uhlenbeek.
Fulham v Manchester City match report
"It's not for the supporters to inspire the team, it's up to the team to inspire the supporters" Kevin Keegan, April 1998:
And so it proved tonight as Fulham simply swept aside Manchester City with a breathtaking performance. It could have been seven or eight, and perhaps it should have been five or six. But no complaints here, the boys got everything right tonight and if this is a sign of things to come at SW6 then be prepared for the crowds to come streaming back in their droves.
Make no mistake, Fulham were irresistable at times and City just couldn't match our skill, pace or desire to win.
Peter Beardsley got us on the way with a goal similar to the one he scored last Tuesday against Cardiff City and Dirk Lehmann scored two, the second an absolute cracker.
We broke freely and with pace, so often missing from our game when Ray Wilkins was in charge and looked dangerous whenever we went forward.
Dirk Lehmann, a bargain £34,000 buy from Germany ws simply superb. His heading ability is beyond anything I've seen at Fulham for years, and his second goal was World class (Yes, I said World class) and a finish that any International striker would have been proud of. The watching SKY tv audience must have been hugely taken with the new look Fulham. Man City came as favourites but left with their tails well and truly between their legs. Special praise must be heeped on Paul Bracewell who I criticised earlier this week, Wayne Collins, and Chris Coleman who were all superb. But weren't they all? And what about Simon Morgan? Is he getting younger??? Pehaps Peter Beardsley is sharing his eternal youth pills around!
The bonding foundations between fans and players were well and truly laid in Hamburg, but last night they completed the job to perfection. The Craven Cottage crowd hummed as the vocal support echoed around the famous old ground the likes not seen since the days of Best and Marsh. Fabulous, absolutely fabulous.
A superb win and in front of the watching nation, KK can certainly hold his head high tonight, as can we... but more than anyone, we must thank Mohamed Al Fayed, for without him, none of this would have been possible.
Fulham team: 4-4-2: Taylor(10) - Morgan(10) - Brevett(10)- Symons(10)- Coleman(10)- Collins(10) - Hayward(10) - Bracewell(10) - Salako(10)- Lehmann(10)-Beardsley(10)
MoM: Dirk Lehmann: Overall performance rating 10.
Fulham V Manchester City match preview
In reality, both sets of fans would have perhaps preferred this match to have taken place a little later in the season when both sides have had a chance to settle down. As it is, neither will want to lose their early unbeaten 'run' and a close encounter can be expected.
The game being live on SKY won't help the crowd as Fulham fans have always had difficulty in making Friday night matches and the fact that the game is all ticket will also keep the potentially big crowd down somewhat. Apart from club line and this media source, I haven't seen the fact that you require a ticket advertised anywhere and only last Saturday fans where still unaware that the game is strictly all ticket. Shame...
SKY certainly have this one right don't they? Man City (they won't come any bigger in this league) have a tremendous away following and with Joe Royal and Kevin Keegan in the respective hot seats it was always going to be the one SKY wanted. Let's hopoe it lives up to expectations and is a good advert for second division football. (although many would say that these teams don't play typical 2nd division footie)
For Man City, they have their injury worries. Danny Tiatto, linked with a move to Fulham not so long ago is doubtful whilst Sean Goater is suffering from a stomach bug but should be fit in time.
KK has massive selection problems. Paul Moody is available after suspension and Gus Uhlenbeek could well be fit to make his CC debut. The big question is, will KK be brave enough to play the 4-4-2 system he favours or will he stick with the winning 5-3-2 formula that won at Macclesfield last Saturday?
Will Peter Beardsley feature and will Dirk Lehmann keeps his place Moody is fit? Will Matty Lawrence keep his place if KK goes for 4-4-2 or will Uhlenbeek step in at right back? All very difficult to predict with any real accuracy.
My guess is that above all, this is a game neither team will want to lose and it'll probably be won by the team that's prepared to gamble the most.
I believe that KK will stick with the five man defence, switching Matt Lawrence for Gus. The return of Moody will then allow John Salako to do what he does best, out wide supplying the ammo for Moods to fire.
City are no doubt confident after their 3-0 win over Blackpool last weekend but I have a gut feeling that they are going to find out about life in division two the hard way on Firday as the Whites cruise to a 3-1 win.
Likely Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Morgan, Bracewell, Salako, Collins, Moody, Lehmann.
Subs: Neilson, Trollope & Beardsley.
Macclesfield 0 v 1 Fulham match report
So a great start to the season, the third time in a row we've won on the opening day 1-0.
On a very hot day (too hot for both spectaotors and players alike) this must be viewed as a very professional performance, bearing in mind that Macclesfield were previously unbeaten at home in the league for two full seasons!
I thought we never really got into second gear today, doing what we had to and nothing more. I can't honestly say we played great, but then we didn't play badly either. To win a difficult game like this without Pesh and Moods has to be viewed as a sign of good things to come.
Macclesfield looked sound if lacking forward options, and they will probably win more games at home than they lose. Overall everyone pulled their weight and nobody had a 'bad' game although I thought the midfield gave the ball away a little too often.
Our goal was straight from the top draw. On 19 minutes Paul Trollope was fouled just outside the area, Paul Bracewell took a neat sideways kick for the classy John Salako to bend the ball around a very large wall into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The 1000+ Fulham fans behind the goal will have noticed just how much swerve Salako managed to put on the ball as one minute it was out of sight and the next it re-appeared bending around the defenders and into the net! A brilliant goal and one that any Brazilian would have been proud of.
The rest of the first half was pretty much even, Paul Trollope had a much better game whilst I thought Wayne Collins, a bit slow starting, also put himself about well and did himself a few favours, getting better as the game went along.
Matty Lawrence had a great chance but headed over from about five yards when it seemed easier to hit the target. Paul Bracewell was once again the target of some crowd abuse but once more I thought he was our best midfield player, always capable of making an extra yard or second for himself and at times, his tackling was awesome.
The second half was also fairly even although Fulham managed to create plenty of chances, mainly from numerous corners and it was from these set pieces that we missed Paul Moody's ariel ability. I'm convinced that had Moods and Pesh been available today the winning margin would have been doubled at the very least.
Dirk did OK winning plenty in the air although his heading lacked any real direction and often went astray. On this showing he looks capable of getting better, but he'd need to if he's to keep his place. A late spectacular over head effort had the animated Kevin Keegan on his feet once more and all in all he can be satisfied with he efforts, although the best way in which I could honeslty describe him is raw...
The starting line up was: Taylor (6) - Lawrence (5) - Brevett (7)- Symons (5) - Coleman (8) - Morgan (7) - Collins (6) - Trollope (6) - Bracewell (7) - Lehaman (6) - Salako (9).
So all in all then a very satisfying victory and the players spent a long time applauding the travelling whites fans. Maik Taylor seemed especially pleased at the result when the final whistle blew as, fist clenched he grabbed his shirt and kissed the crest, beckoning to the fans behind his goal. More of that any day Maik, great stuff!
Overall performance 7/10
Macclesfield Town club call 0930-555835
Macclesfield Town V Fulham match preview
So here we are.. The real thing at last as we take on newly promoted Macclesfield Town, a team unbeaten at home in the league for something like two years! What a way to start.
Our pre-season has gone fairly well if a little unspectacular. The boys seem very fit, and certainly up for it, whilst a fabulous team spirit is very apparent, particulary to those of us in Hamburg... I can't imagine there's a happier squad in the league.
It's very difficult to read Kevin Keegans mind for the opening couple of games. Different systems have been (suprisingly) looked at and I believe Keegan will be quite prepared to change the system according to our opponents and injuries.
With Peschisolido and Moody out suspended I believe we shall take on both Macclesfield and Man City playing a 5-3-2 formation. Writting this preview on Wednesday it's a little early to tell if Gus Uhlenbeek and Dirk Lehaman will be fit enough to start the match on Saturday after both picked up knocks. And unless Keegan has any last minute suprises up his sleeve I can't see any other additions to the squad now at this late stage?
It won't be easy at Macclesfield for sure. You can hear the their managers team talk now can't you? Come on guys, this is Fulham, all this money, Kevin Keegan, let's get out there and show them what were worth And sadly, at this level at least, it seems to bloody work!
With the lack of striking power available the nightmare scenario is one of Fulham domination for something like 75 minutes, only for them to pop up with a last gasp winner and for us to come away 1-0 losers. The reaction of the travelling crowd doesn't bear thinking about. But let's be positive and I firmly believe that we have enough skill and technical quality about us these days to go to Macclesfield and after 90 minutes be able to say "Welcome to Division two lads"
TFI prediction: Macclesfield 1 Fulham 2.
Likely Fulham team: (5-3-2) Taylor, Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman, Morgan, Bracewell, Collins, Salako, Scott, Lehaman.