We'll bounce back

Sunday 16 December 2001

Ian McCulloch writes for Fulham Today

Once again Tottenham Hotspurs gave Premiership new boys Fulham a lesson in finishing. After knocking the Whites out of the Worthington Cup two weeks ago by taking two of their three chances and watching their opponents create numerous openings without really threatening, Spurs dished out more of the same on Saturday.

Captain Andy Melville had no excuses to offer for what was Fulham's heaviest defeat, and probably their worst performance, of the season.

"The lads are very disappointed," he said. "Right from the word go we were second best. It's important now that we bounce back from this defeat."

Once again, keeping the ball was not a problem. Fulham played plenty of neat and stylish football but were unable to turn their possession into goals. Not having an end product to show for so much good football is supremely frustrating and must ultimately affect the morale of the team. Melville agreed that the difference between the two teams was Spurs' cutting edge.

"They punished us whenever they got round the box, and they took their goals well. When we were on top in the second half for twenty minutes, we could have sneaked a goal and maybe got back into the game, but it wasn't to be. We had a good chance just before half time as well."

Spurs showed how to do the simple things well, simple but essential things like sticking the ball in the back of the net, something that the Fulham team in general and the profligate Hayles in particular would do well to emulate. The Whites hit man had two excellent chances either side of half time, but failed to show any sort of composure in front of goal.

Melville was quick to stress however that this was only one game and that it wasn't going to be the start of a dramatic slump in form. The big focus now for the team was to gain something from the experience.

"Spurs punished us today, we need to learn how to punish teams in the same way. We'll have to work very hard this week before the Middlesbrough game. Up to now our defensive record has been good, so it's important now to bounce back and get back to keeping clean sheets.

Fulham have not won at Tottenham since 1948, twenty-three visits ago. With their proud run of eight games unbeaten and four games without conceding a goal coming to an abrupt end, White Hart Lane continues to be an unhappy hunting ground. They may have to wait now until next season to gain their revenge against Spurs, but next Saturday's game at Middlesbrough gives the team the perfect opportunity to bounce back and show the doubters that they can thrive in adversity.