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Fulham 3-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 8th Apr 2017 17:10

Goals from Floyd Ayité, Scott Malone and Stefan Johansen saw Fulham to a 3-1 victory over the Blues at Craven Cottage, Christophe Berra heading a late consolation for the Blues. Ayité netted in the 17th minute and Malone doubled the margin on the half hour before Town missed a number of good chances to pull a goal back prior to Johansen sealing it with the home side’s third on 61.

Tommy Smith replaced the injured Steven Taylor in an otherwise unchanged Town side with 11-goal top scorer Tom Lawrence back on the bench having recovered from his groin injury.

The Blues lined-up in their familiar 3-5-2 system with Smith taking over from Taylor, who is out for the season with a hamstring problem, in the back three.

Fulham dropped their recent regular keeper David Button with Marcus Bettinelli starting between the sticks.

The home side threatened first, winning a second-minute corner which skipper Luke Chambers headed clear, however, the ball subsequently reached Ayité at a tight angle on the right from where he hit a low shot but Bialkowski saved at his near post.

Two minutes later, Johansen hit a low shot from distance which the Blues’ Polish keeper dealt with comfortably.

Following a fifth-minute right-sided corner, McGoldrick brought the ball back in from the left and hit a shot straight at Bettinelli.

On 10 Chris Martin crossed from the Fulham left and Ayité struck a shot which was blocked by any one of a number of Town defenders who were charging him down. The Cottagers continued to press and Ryan Fredericks crossed from the right and Jordan Spence turned behind at the far post.

A minute later at the other end McGoldrick charged down a Bettinelli clearance but screwed his shot well wide.

However, Fulham, so impressive as they won 2-0 at Portman Road on Boxing Day, were starting to get their passing going and were beginning to create chances and on 15 Martin bundled wide at the near post from another Fredericks cross when the former Norwich man will feel he should have scored.

But the Craven Cottage crowd didn’t have to wait too much longer for a goal. Fredericks crossed from the right, Martin hit a low shot which Bialkowski did well to save down to his right but was only able to push into the path of Ayité, who followed up to net from close range.

Town looked to get straight back on terms but Grant Ward was only able to head Freddie Sears’s cross from the left into the arms of Bettinelli.

Sears caused another moment of panic in the Fulham defence in the 21st minute when he out-muscled Michael Madl on the right of the area but the ball ran through to Bettinelli.

There was a bigger scare for the Blues within a minute when Bialkowski’s weak kick fell to a Fulham player but fortunately for the Town keeper the home side were unable to make anything of it and he gratefully pounced on it in his area as Toumani Diagouraga saw the ball back to him.

On 28 McGoldrick - with the use of a hand according to Fulham - sent Sears away down the right but the former West Ham man hit his shot into the side-netting.

Two minutes later the Blues found them two goals behind. Following an interchange of passes on the Fulham left after a throw-in Malone broke into the area and confidently passed a low shot into the corner of the net beyond Bialkowski.

On 37 Kevin McDonald was booked for pulling back McGoldrick as the Town number 10 turned away from him midway inside the Fulham half.

Bialkowski was forced into action again two minutes later when McDonald hit a shot from the edge of the box which the Blues’ keeper pushed away from his top corner. Fredericks subsequently hit a scuffed effort into the Town box which was cleared.

A minute before the break, the Blues should have pulled a goal back. Myles Kenlock crossed from the left and after Spence had challenged in the air the loose ball fell to McGoldrick, who worked himself space before stabbing against the outside of the post. The Irish international clearly knew it was a big chance to have spurned.

After Bialkowski had just about held on to a Johansen shot from distance, referee Geoff Eltringham ended a half in which was even enough in the early stages but by the quarter-hour mark the home side had started to find their flow and had been threatening prior to their goals.

Town threatened fleetingly usually through Sears on the break, while McGoldrick had also caused the Cottagers’ backline problems, most notably the late chance before the break which the Blues will almost certainly rue having passed up.

The Blues switched centre-half Smith for top scorer Lawrence as they moved to 4-4-2 ahead of the second half, the Wales international, who is over his groin injury, starting the half on the left of midfield.

Town almost pulled a goal back within a minute of the restart, Kenlock crossed from the left and Sears was unable to get enough on the ball and it flew the wrong side of the post.

Fulham, however, quickly on 49 Fredericks crossed from the byline on the right and Sone Aluko somehow diverted it out for a Town throw well behind the man who had crossed the ball.

The home side kept up the pressure, Bialkowski superbly tipping a looping Ayité freekick behind, then Christophe Berra blocking from Ayité, before Chambers was booked for dissent.

Town had another great chance to pull a goal back in the 55th minute on the counter-attack. McGoldrick held off a number of defenders and cut to Sears to his left. The ex-Colchester man seemed certain to score but Bettinelli was quickly off his line to save with his foot. Another big chance had gone begging.

Within a minute the Blues went close again. This time Sears broke on the right and crossed towards McGoldrick at the far post, but the Irish international was unable to reach the ball.

Fulham sealed their win with a third goal in the 61st minute but not before McGoldrick had struck a powerful shot from the edge of box which Bettinelli had done well to save to his left.

The Cottagers immediately broke and Johansen was found in space on the right of the area and cut inside before hitting a low shot past Bialkowski.

Town’s second half performance hadn’t deserved them falling further behind but they had failed to take their chances while Fulham had been much more clinical with theirs.

Fulham went looking for a fourth, Ayité forcing Bialkowski into a spectacular catch away to his right, then McDonald hit a shot at a defender then Cairney’s follow-up flew wide.

Sub Lawrence threatened for the first time on 66, cutting in from the left but shooting wide. Moments later, Dominic Samuel replaced Emyr Huws, who had one of his quietest afternoons for the Blues.

Ward was next to go close to scoring for Town, the former Spurs man picking up a loose ball midway inside the Fulham half before smashing a shot which deflected off a defender and over.

Fulham sub Tim Ream was booked for pulling back McGoldrick with the Town striker well placed in the 73rd minute.

Despite the game being lost the Blues kept looking for a goal, Lawrence hitting a shot which was blocked, then Sears an effort which was deflected over.

With the Town fans behind the goal calling for manager Mick McCarthy’s exit, having early expressed their frustrations with owner Marcus Evans, Brett Pitman replaced McGoldrick.

As the match moved into three minutes of injury time Malone was booked for a trip on Lawrence.

And from the freekick the Blues finally hit the net, Berra rising highest to nod home the on-loan Leicester man’s ball into the box.

But there was to be no shock late comeback and, after Martin had screwed a shot wide for the home side, referee Eltringham’s whistle confirmed Town’s first defeat at Craven Cottage since Boxing Day 1963.

While Fulham were much the better side over the 90 minutes and thoroughly deserved their victory, the Blues will look back ruefully on a succession missed chances, most notably McGoldrick’s just before half-time and Sears’s second-half chances also at 2-0.

Had one of those opportunities been taken then the game could have been very different with the Blues having improved after the break following the change of system.

Equally, Fulham could have scored more and the Cottagers' third on the break sealed the game as a contest and Berra’s late goal was nothing more than a consolation on another miserable afternoon for Town's travelling support of around 2,500, who again made their frustrations heard during the second half.

Despite the defeat the Blues remain 17th, nine points off the relegation zone with only five left to play. Town visit 20th-placed Burton Albion, who drew 1-1 at home to Aston Villa today, for the first time in a competitive fixture on Friday.

Fulham: Bettinelli, Fredericks, Malone, McDonald, Cairney (c), Ayité (Kebano 86), Johansen (Piazon 78), Madl (Ream 57), Aluko, Martin, Kalas. Unused: Button, Parker, Cyriac, Sessegnon.

Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers (c), Berra, Smith (Lawrence 46), Kenlock, Diagouraga, Ward, Huws (Samuel 66), Sears, McGoldrick (Pitman 86). Unused: Gerken, Emmanuel, Bru, Williams. Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham).

Photo: TWTD

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Cloddyseedbed added 17:11 - Apr 8
Ah well it didn't take long for normal service to be resumed. Wonder if we can beat Rotherham?

BlueandTruesince82 added 17:14 - Apr 8
For all passengers alighting at Portman Rd normal service is resumed

martin587 added 17:16 - Apr 8
Terrible,clueless,out thought,out fought.Wish I'd stayed at home..Normal service resumed.😡😡

prebsa added 17:17 - Apr 8
Great away support! Suppose it was the fans fault again Mick!

As expected Wigan were an easy team to beat and normal system resumes. A real shame to see this happening.

Mick and Evans out!

surgery added 17:20 - Apr 8
Super Mick, give yourself another well deserved pat on the back

jas0999 added 17:21 - Apr 8
Congrats to those who made the trip today. Great day for it. Sadly, it's yet another poor result. One thing beating a poor Wigan side at PR, but up against a half decent side we look very poor. Simply not good enough. Things won't improve under the current regime unambitious Evans doesn't care and MMs position has been untenable for some time. Sad times. But that's been the case since December 2015.

yungblue added 17:27 - Apr 8
ME obviously cares about ITFC otherwise he wouldn't invest 7miion a year to keep it a float without any return.
The problem lies simply with MM, a terrible manager, with terrible football knowledge and philosophy.
You can say whatever oh what about investment, but a philosophy and tactics of a team cost £0

leahcar88 added 17:34 - Apr 8
Be gone

dukey44 added 17:34 - Apr 8
Mick please please walk away?

OwainG1992 added 17:35 - Apr 8
Fully expected that result to be honest. Under MM we have become so stale. We'll probably beat Roth as let's be honest we bloody well have to! Need a new boss in the summer.

jocasaja added 17:37 - Apr 8
We really need a change ....so boring so stale. Mick out !

TimmyH added 17:38 - Apr 8
Not surprising result really against a better footballing side...the search goes on for back to back wins and personally can't see it happening this season which shows you just how poor we've been.
Whatever happened to the word 'progress' which was bounded about by the board for a season or too up until this one which has now been replaced by the word 'competitive' which shows just how the clubs ambition has gone down hill.

McCarthy out.

lightingblue added 17:42 - Apr 8
Don't worry ladies and gentlemen. Mick will blame us totally. We have to take the blame because Mick says so. It's nothing to do with the players or management. Totally Ipswich fans

dukey44 added 17:43 - Apr 8
How do we get rid of him?

blackcat added 17:46 - Apr 8
Shocked! NO

midastouch added 17:46 - Apr 8
When is our Chairman going to get out of his Chair and give Mick the boot? C'mon Marcus, sort it out please, this is unbearable!

Bluetone added 17:46 - Apr 8
Now let's get this straight

1 McCarthy is far too knowledgeable, in his opinion, to have his tactics and team selection discussed with mere fans which he likened to "pub talk" in other words I'm far too good and knowledgeable to answer your questions.
2 McCarthy has an extremely foul mouth I suspect as a result of being short of answers.
3 He has every intention to hang on as long as he can to grab as much as he can even if that involves completely wrecking our club.
4 The next manager will have to be an excellent one in the Bobby Robson mould to pull round the devastation McCarthy will leave behind when he is eventually forced to go.

midastouch added 17:46 - Apr 8
Or should I say UnBERRAble ;-)

martin587 added 17:51 - Apr 8
One thing I can say,and that is "Once again our support was fantastic".well done Lads.

Gatehouse added 17:52 - Apr 8
I'm already worried about next season especially if mick the stubborn is still here we are totally rudderless drifting towards lower league football mind numbing boredom 15 years of nothing even our "friends " up the road have had promotions and relegations and exciting days I can vaguely remember us putting 7 past WBA years ago oh just for a day to score 7 in a game.Mick the stubborn your head would spin

MicksZzzTactics added 18:08 - Apr 8

Obviously you got MY deepest sympathy :-) you immensely well traveled "true" supporter.... as I think I've lost count of how MANY times you have said this (or words to that effect) just concentrating on this season .... plus the 2nd half of the last one! lol
And you saying it in wonderful wonderful "hindsight" of course! :-) And thus speaking of hindsight ehmmm martin my good man do you personally thus STILL think,seriously!, that the dreaded wimpy-prone & draw-happy Dino will change after 25 "glorious " years in management where he has predominantly 'Got By' by playing & advocating a very 1-dimensional form of unmistakably prehistoric 'Hedgehog' drossball 90% of all that loooong time (or at least as long as he isn't matemathical safe from being relegated any given season!), especially away from home..... or are you already basically getting yourself ready to go to the next away match (with the Dino in charge), thus very admirably continuing to unconditionally support the lads on foreign soil ,albeit in doing so thus IMHO staying very ignorant or oblivious to both history & the hard 'Dinosauric' facts about the by & large (un)entertaining football you can expect to "enjoy" on these away trips??? lol

LordMamu added 18:11 - Apr 8
Boring boring boring...boring manager, boring owner,boring chief executive - all flailing around to find excuses for the boring football. A failing club with everyone in charge spouting drivel while heads are held firmly under the sand. How does the brilliant 5 point plan look now? How many season tickets sold so far - anyone know?

Cloddyseedbed added 18:14 - Apr 8
Look at the names in the total Ipswich squad and say the next Ipswich manager has not got a huge monumental task of turning this club around. Most of them are no where near the starting 11 and the ones that are aren't good enough or will be off at the end of the season. Add that to putting the Bl**dy season tickets up and MM still being here and a budget of Poundland, it will be an interesting summer! :(

bressinghamblue added 18:14 - Apr 8
Dukey44 .... Unfortunately the only way I can see that we'll get rid of MM is for season ticket holders to cancel their Direct Debits, and all fans to protest vocally against Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday.

To all ticket holders that are undecided - you can always buy them again once MM is gone. They're hardly going to sell out all the seats are they?!

This is a very sad state of affairs, and as jas0999 says, it's been that way since Dec 15.

Anyone own a printing company who fancies producing 20,000 sheets of A4 with solid red printing for Newcastle and distributing them at the turnstiles? A nice half-time showing of a sea of red cards for MM and TC would be great!


guentchev added 18:16 - Apr 8
Bart man of the match yet again in a 3-1 defeat. Shows it could have been a lot worse. If we had pulled 1 back before half-time (when Spence got it through to McGoldrick) could have been a closer game. But we well and truly lost this one. Jas0999...in total and complete agreement.

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