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Fulham 2, Wolves 1: A good ending to a frustrating day

11 September 2010

On a day that looked mostly dire due to a combination of a serious injury to Bobby Zamora, a cowardly ref and Wolves’ disgusting rugby tactics, the Cottagers at least grabbed their first win of the campaign when Moussa Dembele completed a second-half brace with a free kick just into injury time.

Thankfully, the "Moose" got loose in the second half.

The result was hardly more than Fulham deserved as Wolves more than lived up to their burgeoning reputation as the league’s new Blackburn. After nipping a 10th minute goal off yet another mistake from John Pantsil (who was subbed off at the half and may be losing his spot to Chris Baird), Wolves did next to nothing the rest of the match — other than collect a series of yellow cards for cynical, American-football style takedowns of Fulham attackers on promising breaks. The free-kick winner came from a foul that generated Wolves’ sixth yellow card of the second half, and the second on Christophe Berra, who was sent off.

It was truly a dire display of negative football from a Wolves side that clearly was OK with a point, and thankfully didn’t get even that. As a soccer fan, their last 45 minutes were an embarrassment.

The result could have come a lot more easily had referee Philip Dowd not turned down what looked like two legitimate penalty claims by Simon Davies, including a very clear one in the second half when Marcus Hahnemann dove through the back of Davies’ legs and brought him down after Davies beat an offside trap. Somewhat incredibly, the penalty (and possibly a red card) on Wolves’ American keeper was waived away and Fulham had to wait another 25 minutes for its just reward after Dembele had leveled just three minutes after the break with the help of a deflection.

Now that the three points have been claimed, Fulham needs to turn its attention to the longer term after Bobby Zamora was stretchered off with a reported broken ankle. Fulham, which already was striker-thin, is now looking really light on attacking options.

The good news for American soccer fans is this should lead to more consistent minutes for Clint Dempsey, who probably will see some time up top now working with Dembele. Dempsey got the start today anyway and played 82 minutes before making way for fellow Yank Eddie Johnson, who was exhumed and could now actually have a decent-sized role in the squad, at least as a sub.

Anyway, we’ll leave the roster pondering for tomorrow and the week ahead. Fulham once again showed character and poise, now having claimed five points from trailing positions already this season. Despite all the adversity, it was a successful start to the Cottagers’ “thug life” portion of the schedule, with trips to Blackburn and then Stoke (in the Carling Cup) next on tap.

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