Fulham 2 (Wilson 58, Pereira 72)
Leeds U 1 (Joao Palhinha og 79)
22nd April 2023, Premier League.
Another totally uninspiring performance from Leeds in London, our 7th visit to the Capital this season and our 7th defeat. Yet again though, the only reason we lost the game was because of a couple of individual errors, this time by Illan Meslier who has become increasingly under the spotlight in recent games purely due to the number of goals we have been conceding. This time it was his handling and dealing with cross balls that undid us. First, stretching to try to reach a deep cross but only flapped it straight to Harry Wilson who smashed the ball in off the crossbar, and then failed to hold a low cross and pushed that one straight to Pereira. They were at best unconvincing pieces of the goalkeeper’s art, at worst they were dire handling errors.
Take those two moments out of the game and you could argue Leeds ought to have at least garnered a point from a game in which neither side really played well consistently, although equally Leeds hardly got going at all until shaken from their stupors by the second Fulham goal.
At least from that moment, Leeds looked like they wanted to affect the game and for the final twenty minutes, we did show some urgency, although quality from every player in black and gold was very limited. That was best highlighted late in the game when Marc Roca took corner after corner from the Leeds right wing only to hit the head or chest of Harry Wilson at the front post with every one of them to the annoyance of the away following who vocalised that annoyance towards an increasingly red-faced Roca. It was just a little cameo but it highlighted how most of our players just constantly seem to come up short in terms of quality with and on the ball. Put simply, it looks more and more like our players, pretty much all of them, are just not good enough.
The Leeds fans have been largely patient during those recent hammerings at Elland Road but they finally broke on Saturday and aimed their wrath fairly and squarely at Victor Orta. “Orta out!”, “Orta time to go!” and “Sack the board!” were regular chants coming from the Putney End.
Apart from those Meslier errors, the Leeds defence looked to be far better for the inclusion of Liam Cooper and the fit-again Max Wober, Wober’s recent absence probably being the obvious reason why we struggled so much against Palace and Pool but looked better here. The fact though that we have been so short of a settled defence because of injuries throughout the season can also be put down to poor recruitment both in terms of the quality of players we have secured and a failure to ensure that all defensive positions were adequately covered in the event of inevitable injuries. Orta is in the frame for that without a doubt.
So, the defence looked better but further up the pitch we looked weak and ineffective. Roca and McKennie didn’t shine while Brenden Aaronson once again showed how lightweight he can be; constantly going to ground under the most feeble of challenges. When we did get sight of the goal it was another familiar tale of not being able to hit the proverbial cow’s arse with a banjo. Probably the only bright light was that shone by Crysencio Summerville who tormented Fulham almost single-handedly for much of his time on the pitch.
Fulham did just enough in terms of some clinical finishing and biding their time to wait for us to make those mistakes and, of course, they ensured they themselves were error-free in the main. When they had the ball they looked pacey and dangerous while we looked stodgy and out of ideas.
With only Leicester City winning amongst the current bottom five including ourselves, it was another missed opportunity to edge away from danger against a team that shouldn’t have had the same powerful incentive to win as we do.
We are running out of chances now to put points on the board and it looks more and more likely that the only way we will stay in this league is if the other teams continue to falter. The game against Leicester on Tuesday is another opportunity, as will be the game next weekend in Bournemouth. Should we fail to register points in both of those games I fear those other teams, poor as they are, will overtake us by picking up the odd draw here and there and, let’s face it, if we can’t get points from the next two what chance will we have against Newcastle, Man City and Spurs. Even the game at West Ham, with that London curse continuing to hang around our necks, looks an odds-on defeat.
Fulham Leeds U
Possession 49% 51%
Shots 12 10
On Target 5 2
Corners 8 6
Fouls 10 15