Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic felt his side were not aggressive enough as they went down to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion this afternoon.

The Serbian coach bemoaned the concession of two ‘cheap goals’ and felt referee Stephen Martin’s decision to award the hosts a second-half penalty for a foul on Kyle McFadzean was ‘strange’. Jokanovic insisted he didn’t want to talk too much about the official and was very strident about his own side’s failings after Fulham failed to build on Ollie Norwood’s equaliser.

Jokanovic told his post-match press conference:

We gave them two chances for an advantage, which they took, and in a game on a smaller pitch it is not always easy to score goals. We tried, we moved the ball and we created some chances, but after we gave them the advantage it was hard and we could not score.

He lamented familiar failings that were in stark contrast to Fulham’s fine display at the Pirelli Stadium.

We didn’t play worse than that day [last season] but in different moments we weren’t aggressive enough, we made some costly mistakes. We created the chances like we always make, we missed the chances that we always make. We weren’t aggressive enough, and we paid an expensive price for our mistakes. For a long time we’ve paid an expensive price for similar mistakes.

We want to fight for more things, we want to be better, but right now we have not improved so much. If we don’t show more ambition to win the game against Burton, it’s complicated to think about more important things. The time in front of us is for working and trying to improve. We are not in a good enough level at the moment and we have to push harder to improve

The penalty was strange. Without talking too much, if this is a penalty… There was a situation with Floyd Ayité in the opposite box, one situation is a penalty and the other’s not a penalty. I don’t complain, I don’t want to talk about this, but today it was a strange attitude by the referee.

{ 0 comments }

Burton bring Fulham down to earth

by Dan on September 16, 2017

Any aspirations that Fulham held of figuring in the Championship promotion picture were dealt a hefty reality check this afternoon as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were beaten at Burton Albion in one of the Brewers’ best ever victories, according to a delighted Nigel Clough. A predatory strike from skipper Stephen Warnock and a disputed second-half penalty were enough to secure Burton’s first ever win over Fulham, who flattered to deceive, even after Oliver Norwood’s excellent equaliser and will have had plenty to ponder on the trip back to London.

Warnock’s first goal in more than three and a half years was a fitting reward for the hosts’ enterprising start to the fixture, which seemed to catch Fulham cold. The former Liverpool left back, operating as a wing-back in Clough’s defensively disciplined 5-3-2 system, punished some diabolical defending to stab home into unguarded net after Sean Scanell had scampered onto Jake Burton’s searching pass down the right. How the former Crystal Palace forward managed to gain enough time and space to advance inside Tim Ream was questionable, but the ricochet from Norwood’s sliding tackle took the loose ball out of the reach of David Button and allowed Burton the tonic of early lead.

Fulham’s possession football was far too patient at times, but the visitors probed with regularity outside the Burton box. Sheyi Ojo had already spooned an early effort over Stephen Bywater’s bar, but Norwood was guilty of lifting a much more presentable opening high into the home fans from close range after Stefan Johansen’s smart cut-back. Bywater was then called into action to repel Floyd Ayite’s low drive at his near post following fine interplay between the Togolese international, again operating as a false nine, and Neeskens Kebano.

The visitors did eventually fashion an equaliser just after the half hour although it owed a bit to good fortune and much to Norwood’s ambition. The pass into the Northern Ireland midfielder’s path by Johansen benefited from a looping deflection but Norwood’s low drive from 25 yards was a thing of real beauty, arrowing into the bottom corner beyond a beaten Bywater. Jokanovic would have expected his charges – so dominant in possession – to kick on from this point but they failed to make their press home their advantage when on top, which has been the story of a frustrating campaign to date.

Indeed, it was the home side who went closest to reestablishing their lead before the break. Lucas Akins curled an effort from range into Button’s arms but the former Brentford goalkeeper was well beaten by a low drive from the industrious Jamie Allen that came back off the far post. Fulham fashioned openings for Kebano, who sent a header on the strech wide, and Ayite nearly intercepted a meek backheader from Ben Turner – but the game was evenly poised at the interval.

Burton began the second period at a high tempo – once again pushing their visitors onto the back foot. They forced a succession of corners and Scanell had a dangerous shot deflected behind, before referee Stephen Martin, who had let a number of robust challenges go unpunished previously, adjudged that Ryan Sessegnon had brought down Kyle McFadzean. It looked a soft spot-kick and insult was added to injury when Akins’ scuffed effort squeezed past Button, who might have felt he could have kept it out.

Jokanovic admitted afterwards he felt the award was ‘strange,’ especially when Martin waved away vociferous Fulham appeals after Turner’s challenge on Ayite immediately afterwards at the other end, but his side failed to take the chances that came their way. Sessegnon did brilliantly to cut a low ball back from the by-line but Ojo struck the crossbar from seven yards out when it seemed easier to find the net. Fulham sent on Rui Fonte in search of an equaliser but, despite the Portuguese forward’s intelligent runs, the best chance fell to Johansen, who drove a volley high into the away fans, after Ayite had sauntered down the left.

Jokanovic then introduced Jordan Graham for Norwood – which might have unbalanced a midfield that was gradually getting on top – and, although white shirts continued to flood forward, they struggled to carve out clear openings in the closing quarter of an hour. The assistant referee’s flag ruled out Ojo’s clever run and finish for offside and the best opening fell to teenager Sessegnon who climbed well to connect with Graham’s deep corner, but guided his header off target.

This was an important reminder of the competitive nature of the Championship for a Fulham side who are still to find their feet this season. Burton battled manfully and their defensive discipline was commendable, largely meriting the precious three points they earned after four minutes of injury-time – but Jokanovic will need to reflect on why Fulham couldn’t translate 70 per cent of the ball into more than two efforts on target.

BURTON ALBION (5-3-2): Bywater; Brayford, Warnock, Buxton, McFadzean, Turner; Allen, Murphy, Akins; Scannell (Lund 77), Sordell (Varney 88). Subs (not used): Ripley, Flanagan, Naylor, Dyer, Mason.

BOOKED: McFadzean.

GOALS: Warnock (12), Akins (pen 51).

FULHAM (4-3-3): Button; Fredericks, R. Sessegnon, Kalas, Ream; McDonald, Norwood (Graham 79), Johansen; Kebano (Fonte 70), Ojo, Ayite. Subs (not used): Bettinelli, Djalo, Odoi, Cisse, Mollo.

BOOKED: Ojo.

GOAL: Norwood (31).

REFEREE: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).

ATTENDANCE: 4,049.

{ 0 comments }

Up next: Burton Albion (a)

September 16, 2017

Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham scrapped for their lives to secure their first home win of the season in what at times seemed a titanic struggle against Hull City on Wednesday. The Serbian appreciated their appetite for the battle – if not the heart-stopping nature of the final fifteen minutes – and will be targeting back-to-back […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Jokanovic urges Fulham to ‘improve’

September 14, 2017

Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic was pleased to secure Fulham’s first home win of the season – but recognised his side needed to improve if they were challenge for promotion and urged his team to avoid any more ‘heart-attack’ games. The Serbian head coach was speaking after the Whites edged a nervy contest against Hull City courtesy […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Johansen guides Fulham to first home win

September 14, 2017

Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic wasn’t satisfied but his Wednesday evening finished far happier once Stefan Johansen’s fantastic volley steered Fulham past a spirited Hull City and secured their first home win of a fitful Championship campaign. The Serbian head coach, difficult to please at the best of times, fretted about more frenetic defending and a whole […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Up next: Hull City (h)

September 13, 2017

Tweet After the frustrating concession of another lead late on against Cardiff City on Saturday, Fulham have an almost immediate opportunity to put matters right when Hull City visit Craven Cottage this evening. For a perfectionist like Slavisa Jokanovic, his side’s emergence as the Championship’s early draw specialists will really rankle, especially when you factor […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Fulham retain Category One academy status

September 13, 2017

Tweet Fulham have retained their Category One academy status for a fifth successive season, the club announced this morning. Despite relegation from the Premier League in 2014, Fulham have held onto the highest academy rating under Elite Player Performance Plan since the new ratings were introduced. Fulham have produced a number of leading players from […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Why Roy Hodgson deserves another chance

September 12, 2017

Tweet The back of this morning’s Times newspaper made Roy Hodgson out to be a senile old man. The headline to Alyson Rudd’s piece on his impending appointment as Crystal Palace’s successor to Frank de Boer said he would ‘take [the] Palace job aged 70‘. I’ve searched in vain for similar stories denoting Harry Redknapp’s […]

1 comment Read the full article →

New Fulham deal for de la Torre

September 12, 2017

Tweet Promising American midfielder Luca de la Torre has signed a new contract with Fulham – which will keep him at Craven Cottage until the summer of 2020. The Texan attacking midfielder is considered one of the finest products to come through the Motspur Park academy in recent seasons and starred on his introduction to […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Sessegnon reflects on two dropped points

September 10, 2017

Tweet Ryan Sessegnon felt Fulham should have beaten Cardiff once he had put the Whites ahead against the Championship leaders – but the teenager believes there were plenty of positive signs for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side despite the disappointing finish. The 17 year-old, who was deployed as a left winger due to a number of injuries […]

0 comments Read the full article →