Having ended the previous month with a disappointing late defeat to Manchester City, Fulham did well to consolidate our position in mid-table with an unbeaten October that could have been a lot better.
The month began with an away trip to Southampton which saw us come from behind to take a late 2-1 lead, only to be denied all three points by a 90th minute header from Jose Fonte. After a late goal scuppered our hopes of an upset against City, Kieran Richardson’s 88th minute strike looked like it might give us the win before Fonte ruined the party by capitalising from a set-piece – although there appeared to be a foul on Giorgos Karagounis in the build up.
Back at the Cottage, a win was forthcoming as we dominated proceedings against Aston Villa to come away with a 1-0 win courtesy of another late goal – this time from the unlikely source of defensive midfielder Chris Baird. Even though the best part of a fortnight had gone by since the last game, we showed no rustiness and were unlucky not to score more against a lacklustre Villa side.
On the road again, this time it was a shorter trip to Reading but the late goals kept coming. A fascinating game saw us go behind, then go in front, before an 85th minute equaliser from Garath McCleary looked like it would be the end of things at 2-2. Dimitar Berbatov then struck home to send our travelling fans wild, but hearts were broken from another set-piece once more as Hal Robson-Kanu prodded home an injury-time leveller.
Knowing that it was 77 years since we had last won a league game at Southampton must have stoked the fires as we boasted considerably more possession than the home side and looked to dominate early on at St Mary’s Stadium. However, we went behind in the fourth minute as a corner from Adam Lallana was met by Jose Fonte – his header looping in at the far post to put us behind. An even first half saw chances at both ends, but we came out stronger in the second and were back in business when a 69th minute thunderbolt from John Arne Riise was diverted into his own net by substitute Jos Hooiveld. Then we were ahead as Sascha Riether’s cross was hit home by Kieran Richardson in the 88th - surely enough to seal the points? Not so, as Daniel Fox’s cross was headed home from close range by Fonte for his second of the game. More late heartbreak for the Whites.
Richardson was restored to the First XI after his goalscoring return and Martin Jol named an attacking lineup for the home game with Villa. It nearly worked out straight away as goalkeeper Brad Guzan had to block from Berba and Richardson inside three minutes, but we were unable to capitalise on our pressure before the break. In the second half, there was more good wing play from the Whites to present Rodallega with a chance and the combination of Riise and Richardson continued to cause problems for the opposition. For a change, though, it was us who scored from a late set-piece to win the game as Chris Baird stole in at the near post to get on the end of a Riise delivery. Our first win of the month was in the bag and a familiar eighth place (one point ahead of Arsenal) secured.
The newly promoted Royals had not enjoyed a very good start to the season and had only picked up three points from their opening seven games – sitting second from bottom. With Berbatov playing behind Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz back on the bench after injury, there were certainly plenty of attacking options for the Whites, but we went behind as Mikele Leigertwood’s 26th screamer ensured they went into the break ahead. With Ruiz keen to make an impression, the Costa Rican was brought on and immediately got us back into contention as he played a one-two with Damien Duff before curling a fine shot into the top corner. Ruiz’s 77th minute corner was then headed home by Baird, although the Northern Irishman had to come off after landing awkwardly. We were unable to hold onto the lead when Jobi McAnuff’s cross was slotted home from close range by substitute Garath McCleary but Berba gave us hope again minutes later with a curled effort from inside the box. The late goals curse haunted us again, however, as Hal Robson-Kanu popped up to net an equaliser with the last kick of the game. Despite a disappointing draw, results meant we climbed to seventh place in the table.