At the Double

Thursday 12 September 2002

Firstly, may I take this opportunity to apologise to the grey-haired chap I grabbed and lifted up and down when Leggy scored the winner! Oh, and his young son, and the lady next to him! But what a night! What a second-half performance! The term knife through butter comes to mind when describing our last 20 minutes and the way we ran through the Spurs defence.

At 2-0 down it looked like we had nowhere to go. The defence looked in total disarray for the last 15 minutes of the first half and quite frankly the half-time 20-1 odds for a Fulham win seemed wide of the mark.

I could just hear Hoddle preaching his words of wisdom about "how we planned to hold them for the first 30 minutes and then hit them just before half-time with two goals. Yeah, they're a good side and we have the utmost respect for them but to be fair and at the end of the day, I didn't think we needed to bring Robbie Keane on "blah, blah, blah"...

There would clearly be no mention that the ball didn't actually go out of play for the corner that led to their first goal, but hey ho, who cares now, anyway!

Steed's introduction was the turning point. He quickly made his presence felt with a trademark mazy dribble and shot which, although lacking penetration, showed the intent. Christian had said earlier in the week that both he and Ina could play in the same side and boy what an exciting 45 minutes they gave us. They clicked right from the start and with Seany driving the play forward and Finns linking on the right all the play was coming through the midfield. We were quite simply destroying the league leaders at will.

When Sean's pile-driver and Steed's one-on-one were brilliantly saved by Keller I thought it was just going to be one of those nights when no matter what we do, we don't find the net. Much like all of last season!

Then our Japanese hero writes yet another chapter in his remarkable early book with the whites. His crisp strike gets us back in the match and the belief returns. Finns, yet again outstanding, makes an opening for himself and hits a cracker against the bar. Then Barry, something of a talisman against Spurs, is hustled to the ground and the brave lino waves his flag. Credit to the ref for listening and having the bottle to change his mind. Great penalty from Steed with Keller going the right way.



With eight minutes to go, battle is truly engaged but the keeper seems destined to keep Spurs unbeaten as Finns is yet again denied. But with seconds remaining Sava plays a great pass through to the onrushing Leggy and Loftus Road goes mad. Seldom can I remember an atmosphere as electric as that. We really did make a difference in the second half and it seems three sides of the ground are now cheering the boys on, as opposed to just the Hammy End and the Enclosure at the Cottage. Great stuff.

Fortunately it seems that Wome's injury isn't too bad and he looked a useful addition. His whipped in corners were pure quality and we really should be attacking these, as they're a defenders nightmare. If he's out for Saturday Rufus wont let us down.

On the negative side, Zat got left for the first goal and the disallowed one, but he needs the experience to improve on situations like that. Losing Louis and Boa to injuries will hopefully only be short-term and maybe Bob's hat trick for the reserves will give him the confidence he needs to reclaim his form.

Overall, it was a great night and very important for us as we face a tough test away on Saturday at Sunderland. They are a team lacking confidence and also Kevin Philips, two ingredients that should bode well for a Fulham result. The table now shows us in 8th place with a game in hand that could take us second. It's much brighter prospect than it looked at 8.30pm last night.

The key for us will once again come from the movement and passing of our midfield. If Sava/Barry/Bob can hold the ball up and get their support as we did so effectively in the second half the opportunity to move onto the ball will present chances at the Stadium of Light. It's a venue that saw Steed score a great goal last year as we earned a 1-1 draw. I really think we can go one better this time as a place in the top six beckons. After that we're off for our first ever UEFA Cup encounter. Apologies in advance for anyone I hug, kiss, throw up and down should we win that one!

COYW
GD