John Roper and John Smith discuss the Gentry Day defeat at Craven Cottage
A fabulous Gentry Day off the field for the 2,821 North End fans inside Craven Cottage but a bit of a day to forget on the field as North End rolled over a bit too meekly and were on the end of a 3-1 defeat. Credit must go to the home side as they are clearly a team in form but injuries and the team selection conspired, in my opinion, to leave North End too much to do against a dominant Fulham side. I thought we gave the Cottagers too much respect and were too conservative in our approach because after we went two down we came out and played to our strengths and finally looked like we could score but, alas, Fulham went down the other end and scored the third of three poor goals from a North End perspective to put the game to bed.North End started with McGeady in a more central position behind Hugill and although he showed some good touches I feel that his best position is wide where he creates more for the team. Having said that it was McGeady who had an opening shot but they were all too few and far between as the home side had a huge percentage of the ball and North End were defending for long periods. The opening goal came half way through the first half after good work on the left for Fulham allowed Aluko to put the home side ahead unchallenged in the box. It was all Fulham with Maxwell having to make a superb save just on the stroke of half-time as once again the North End keeper was very steady in his work. McGeady had another half chance but it was a disappointing first half and as the teams trooped off the faithful were thinking that it could only get better for North End in the second period. They did start a litlle brighter at the beginning of the second period with Horgan and Johnson both having early efforts on goal as North End kicked towards the travelling fans hoping to improve on a poor first half. Unfortunately it got worse, not better, as Chris Martin put the home side two up with another goal that was poor from a North End perspective and left us really up against it. Finally, though, we got into the game and we were all wondering why North End had not been more attack minded earlier in the game. McGeady put a peach of a ball through for Tom Barkhuizen and the former Morcambe man made no mistake putting the ball past Button in the Fulham goal and North End were back in the game. It was not enough, though, as with just over 10 minutes to go Kebano cut in from the left and scored an all too simple goal past Maxwell to seal the points, deservedly so , for thre home side. Not a good day for the boys on the field then and much to discuss for the travelling hordes as many made their way back to Putney Bridge for the tube back to Euston. I thought that we were not effective in the centre of the park with Johnson not ideally suited to playing a deeper role in midfield when your team are up against it. I certainly think that if Pearson is fit then he should play but the manager didn’t pick the team to lose and Simon Grayson gets many more right than he gets wrong. I`m sure the fans would have liked to see us attack Fulham more and it was one of those games where hindsight is a wonderful thing. Fortunately North End have a quick chance to turn it round at Derby on Tuesday evening when I am sure the manager will freshen up the side and go for the win as draws are not very much use to us in the chase for a top six place.
Over 3,000 fans descended on Craven Cottage on Gentry Day for a crucial fixture against Fulham who were just above us in the table.The huge majority of them were decked out in bowler hats and suits although there was one male who for some reason wore a white nurses outfit complete with red suspenders even though we were playing in yellow.We began the game on the backfoot and allowed Fulham who I thought were a decent side at this level to pass the ball around quite well.Eventually our frailties at the back were exposed midway through the half when Fulham took the lead with a well worked goal.We missed the presence of a natural right back due to injuries and with Greg Cunningham being forced to fill the role and we looked vulnerable on the left hand side too. Fulham continued to dominate the half but never really looked like extending their lead. Playing towards the massed hordes of Laurel and Hardy lookalikes we began the second half with more purpose and although we conceded another goal against the run of play we were well on the trail of the lonesome pike when Tom Barkhuizen showed some bite and pulled a goal back.The Gentry responded by upping the volume and creating a better atmosphere and even though we were losing they drowned out the home fans .We had a couple of corners as our attacking options increased following substitutions and started to press the home side.However it was not to be and it was a case of another fine mess we got ourselves into when Fulham crafted a third goal on the break.The defeat put us further away from a play off spot although as every football fan knows its never over until its over even though it appears the fat lady is clearing her throat getting ready to sing.