I knew it wasn`t going to go well last night when it started off with me getting soaked on the walk to the ground from the City Farm area where I`d parked. Plus I get a bit superstitious at matches nowadays, not washing my shirt until we lose etc haha! So another bad luck omen was when the intro to the Greasy chip butty song didn`t get played before first half kick off!
Fulham started well, and looked like they`d done their homework on us from the kick-off. They matched us in midfield and had a few chances early on. I thought the first Clarke goal might have dropped their heads a bit but they came back out of the blocks.
Our lads did well to fight back from being heavily down, but I had to just sit there on the Kop and stare in wonderment at the shocking errors that were going on at the back. Their opener was a fluffed back-pass from Carter-Vickers and Blackman didn`t do much to help the situation. He was hesitant throughout the game, not coming off his line, not shouting for the ball, but CCV looked like his head dropped as soon as Fulham`s opener rumbled into the Kop end net. I was dumbfounded looking at three of their goals which were all defensive errors, as well as just starting off as lost passes. The only performers for me were Duffy, Clarke and Sharp, with O`Connell in defence. Fleck had a brilliant game, but he couldn`t do it on his own.
Yes, we were missing Coutts from midfield, and I had read about everyone getting behind Lundstram on Twitter, however, after last night I can`t see why he`d be fielded anytime soon apart from being a sub. Carruthers hasn`t been a favourite of mine to be honest, but he jigged things up when he came on last night as a sub, and he grabbed a goal as well. Some people will stick with Blackman in the onion bag, but I`m not keen on his there now. Yes, he hasn`t conceded many prior to last night, but that`s been down to lack of chances that opposition teams have had in the past. We`ve managed to stave them off from making efforts. Last night we were under a lot of pressure and I don`t think he could cope.
I`m no manager, so that means I can criticise the referee! He was absolutely shocking. He lost control of the game on the thirty minute mark following constantly being hood-winked by the Fulham players. I know he had a previous reputation for not being card shy, this game produced seven yellows! You could feel and hear the frustration on the Kop at some of the decisions, we were constantly getting pulled back for throw-ins and nothing was done with Fulham`s throws, plus their constant time-wasting was so frustrating. The guy that sits behind me was timing their goal celebrations and they were taking in excess of two minutes to get back into their own half. The ref knew this was going on and constantly waving to get them to pick up the pace with goal kicks, throw-ins, and getting back in their own half, but never showed a card for those. Some of the challenges were only going one way, Sharp was knocked over in their box, as was Brooks, who was sandwiched, but nothing came of both these incidents. Hanson, as big as he is, came on to everyone`s surprise in the second half and even he, as a big unit, was knocked off the ball in the six-yard box with nothing produced for that. I thought Hanson had a good cameo last night. It was a surprise seeing him come off the bench ahead of Donaldson, but he is a big lad and added to the aerial problems for Fulham as we pushed in injury time to get back into it. Him, Clarke and O`Connell are big in the air and caused snags for their team with our late-on route one football.
I don`t know if it`s just me getting old and miserable but I`m getting fed up of watching players, who are paid a lot more than I am, and supposedly professional sportsmen, feigning being floored at every opportunity they get. I banged my head on my last ship, yes it hurt and I was trying my hardest not to swear and even cut my head open, but I managed to stay on my feet and carry on with what I was doing! I lost count with the amount of Fulham players that threw themselves to the deck trying to catch the refs eye - reminded me a little bit of the Norwich match and the antics they were employing. I wish there were punishments for diving and feigning injury just to get other players booked or win free-kicks. I don`t know how people class this as sportsman-like. Fulham played well and didn`t need to employ these tactics.
Anyway, Birmingham at the Lane next, we need to get back on track and regain our position in the table, especially after Cardiff beat the Dingles last night and are a point ahead of me. I`m not sure what everyone else thinks at the Lane, but I think it`s time for Moore to get his number one spot back, and put Lundstram back on the bench after last night! That`s my opinion though, and probably won`t be shared with everyone, but it was a shock defeat and we`ve only lost six games this season. The main thing though is that we are still above the Wendy`s so that will do for me!
I`ll be back on the Kop this Saturday for the game, which will be my last one before I have to deploy a month early and go back to sea. I`ll be there as part being the twelfth man and will be getting behind the team as we all have been doing with our fantastic support.
Olly Longden (RFA)
Sheffield United MOD/Armed Forces Supporter`s Branch