English Championship’s promotion candidate Fulham started their new decade by taking on Reading at home only three days after beating Stoke 1-0 on the 29th December. Fulham has struggled against the lower placed teams in the league and while dominating in the ball possession statistics and shots, the results have left a lot to be desired for. It was the same old story against Reading, who gave out the possession willingly but struck back with ferocity to capture a 1-2 victory against their wasteful hosts. It was the fourth straight win for Reading and sixth straight with no losses, so while Fulham should be disappointed in the result, it seems that their visitors have found a suitable formula for their team.
Fulham’s loss set them back in chase for the automatic promotion places in the top two and their pace has slowed down remarkably from the start of the season. Scott Parker’s side have only won twice in seven games, gathering seven points. Needless to say that pace will not do in order to chase down Leeds and WBA, currently manning the top two positions ten points ahead of Fulham. The battle for the promotion playoffs rages on, with ten teams within six points.
The game against tactically sound Reading pinpointed the issues which Fulham has suffered all season long. While able to create pressure, keep possession and even create chances, their goal scoring lies too much on the shoulders of Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has banged in 18 goals so far. Defensively sound teams, like Reading, are able to shut down the Serbian inside the box, hence leaving the striker frustrated and Fulham attack toothless. The sole goal for Fulham against Reading was scored by substitute Ivan Cavaleiro, who slotted the ball with skill near the far post of the goal. Fulham earned nine corner kicks and 20 shots, with six on goal, which usually is enough to provide at least two goals – but not this time. Reading on the other hand struck back beautifully, with John Swift and Charlie Adam finishing from the short range in front of the goal. That’s the sort of killer instinct Scott Parker needs from his team in order to win the games they are dominating the possession and chances.
Fulham will face a stern test in FA Cup on the fourth of January, facing Premier League club Aston Ville, who won promotion last season. In the Championship, the fixture list normalizes after the festive season and Fulham will travel to Hull on 11th and then host Middlesbrough on the 17th.