Error-strewn Fulham so dismal as bottom side Barnsley cruise it
Fulham 0 Barnsley 3
Two dreadful mistakes from Marek Rodak underpinned a dreadful day at the office for Fulham, who lost ground on the top two on a day when they might have expected to improve their position.
Beaten 1-0 at Barnsley on the opening day of the season with a lacklustre performance, this one was every bit as bad, as they looked anything but promotion challengers.
It ended a run of six league games without defeat for Scott Parker’s men.
Fulham made a dismal start in the swirling wind and rain and got progressively worse, apart from a brief spell following the introduction of Abou Kamara, just past the hour.
They looked subdued and out-of-sorts on an afternoon when the lack of the Riverside Stand really exposed the Cottage to the elements and seemed to make the occasion even bleaker for the hosts.
Relegation-threatened Barnsley knocked the ball about confidently, belying their lowly status, while the Whites frittered away possession and looked listless. In the battle of nearly top against bottom, the positions seemed to have been reversed.
The Yorkshire side deservedly went ahead with a well-taken penalty on 24 minutes from former Whites striker Cauley Woodrow – the result of Rodak hauling back Jacob Brown as the pair went for a ball struck deep from the left touchline towards the area.
It was one of two costly errors from the Slovakian, who had the ignominy of having a third goal struck through his legs.
Among those also struggling to get their act together early on was Anthony Knockaert, back after missing the midweek draw at Millwall.
He was in the wars after a couple of robust challenges, misjudged some passes and ran into trouble with his dribbles and when he lost the ball on half way, Barnsley made the most of it with the long pass which drew the error from Rodak.
Tom Cairney tried to get the hosts going but a few wafted efforts from outside the box were no problem for Barnsley stopper Brad Collins. He would leave the action early.
The start of the second half brought the clearest chance so far, when Aleksandar Mitrovic’s low shot on the turn was kept out by Collins’ outstretched leg and Josh Onamah hooked over following a goalmouth scramble. Onamah also struck the bar in injury time, but that was a mere footnote.
Barnsley doubled their lead on 51 minutes and it was another howler from Rodak, who needlessly rushed to the edge of the area to try and reach a ball he had no chance of reaching. Brown got there ahead of both Rodak and Tim Ream and his simple touch rolled the ball into the far corner.
That was the cue for a double substitution, with Harry Arter and Bobby Reid coming on for Kevin McDonald and Cairney – a move which promoted a few incredulous boos from home fans.
Before long, Kamara was also brought on in a go-for-broke move – coming on for defender Steven Sessegnon – and he did spark a response, Ivan Cavaleiro flashing a shot just wide after the sub had forced a corner.
Kamara then had the keeper scrambling to turn aside a snap-shot with the outside of his right boot before Reid was denied from close range after looking to profit from a miscued Michael Hector pass
But Woodrow and Conor Chaplin missed chances to shut Fulham out of the game long before Woodrow made sure on 79 minutes, tucking home after ambling around Hector and steering the ball through Rodak’s legs. It is only their second away win of the campaign.
There was a heartfelt extended applause before kick-off for former Whites winger Jimmy Conway, a member of the 75 FA Cup final side, who died this week at the age of 73. His old team’s display was sadly not a fitting way to mark his sad passing.
Line-up: Rodak – Sessegnon (Kamara 65), Hector, Ream, Bryan – Cairney (Arter 54), McDonald (Reid 54), Onomah – Knockaert, Mitrovic, Cavaleiro. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Odoi, Christie, Johansen