It continues to get better and better, and for a few hours we moved into the dizzy heights of fourth (note: there were numerous cases reported at Sandwell General Hospital of Baggies supporters with nose-bleeds), until Sunday’s results saw us slip back to our ‘normal’ position of 6th on 15 points.
What was satisfying was the fact that our two scorers were the 8th and 9th scorers of Premier goals for the club – so we are not just dependant on one man, though may he return soon.
My notes stated that we had a ‘satisfactory’ half: it was gratifying to see the way we came back from going behind to a Zoltan Gera goal (which turned out to be unlucky, as Scott Carson had tipped the ball onto the post, it had rebounded and hit him on the back and then went in!). Full credit to Gera for not celebrating.
The goal had stemmed from a Youssouf Mulumbu mistake (though he may have been fouled) with Gera getting his shot away. It was a rare mistake for a player who has gained in confidence as the season has progressed, and has now added another dimension to his game – going forward and scoring goals. Which he did, adroitly, equalising after 17’ after two fine passes – started by Gabriel Tamas, continued by Chris Brunt and put in excellently from the right side of the penalty area.
The Hawthorns had given the three returning players of Gera, Diomansy Kamara (a mixed reception) and Jonathan Greening a warm welcome on their appearance, and they all started for the first time in Fulham’s colours. Gera looked by far the most creative, with Greening playing a holding midfield role.
From 1-1 it then became 2-1 five minutes before half time, after a fine Gonzalo Jara pass released Chris Brunt who then found Jerome Thomas. The latter pulled the ball back from the bye-line for Marc-Antoine Fortuné to slot home – his first goal for the club in his second spell with us.
So impressions of the half would be Jara tackling well, distributing not so well and then making amends by laying on the second goal; Tamas being absolutely immense in defence and not putting a foot wrong (and reinforcing a new confident defence); and Mulumbu revealing a new side to his game.
The second half was uneventful in terms of no more goals, yet productive in the way we played: that our two goals had been well worked and taken was no fluke and we continued to put together some fine patterns of play that Fulham could not match. In fairness they were well beaten at the end, and yet at only the one goal difference anything could have happened and a loss of two points was always on the cards.
Yet we created, which is always a good sign, and we could have scored more: two James Morrison efforts and a sharp Paul Scharner chance could have resulted in a more flattering score line. No matter, we have had an excellent start, unbeaten in six league games, our best ever to a Premiership season and if we continue to play like this then we shall win more games than we lose.
A pleasing stat: none were booked (it wasn’t that sort of game) and the refereeing was excellent. Tamas was our man of the match, the crowd gave it to Mulumbu, while Morrison and Brunt pushed him close.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.