Promotion hopefuls Fulham struggled at home against Reading to start the year, but bounced back brilliantly in their away fixture against Hull City. It was a hard-fought battle, something that Fulham has not been involved very regularly and to come up on top was a proud moment for Scott Parker and his squad. The hosts might’ve had the better chances throughout, but visiting Fulham made their count and ran away with 0-1 winners to narrow their distance to automatic promotion places – helped by Leeds losing and WBA struggling with draws.
It was indeed expected to be a tough outing against Hull, who had previously taken a stunning 0-3 victory from Craven Cottage early November. Fulham seemingly played with a chip on their shoulder and their effort was tireless as ever. Both teams played a physical, hard-working and committed game, where goal-scoring chances were few and far between. The first half saw only one shot on goal from each – which Fulham converted into a go-ahead goal. Anthony Knockaert made a daring run towards the Hull City defense, causing mayhem inside the area and Ivan Cavaleiro gathered the loose ball, coolly lobbing it over the stunned Hull keeper George Long.
Close quarters battle raged on for another 70 minutes after the goal, but both teams deserve an honorary mention for their defensive efforts. The goalkeepers barely had to sweat for their paycheck, as the game finished with Hull City two shots on goal and Fulham only one. Cavaleiro’s 29th minute goal was enough to send Fulham fourth in the Championship, seven points behind second placed Leeds and three points in the playoff-zone. There are eight teams within six points vying for the playoff-seeding – and why not the automatic promotion, with the top duo struggling as of late.
Fulham has managed to keep their pace rather well, not suffering from serious slumps. They did lose three in a row to start December last year, but have corrected their course since. On top of the table, WBA has not won in five games and Leeds have gathered only five points in their last five games. For Fulham, the automatic promotion is suddenly visible on the horizon and that’s definitely something to aim for.
Fulham vs Middlesbrough (1×2): 1.86 – 3.45 – 3.90