It wasn’t Fulham’s finest afternoon at Griffin Park and running the rule over the boys in white didn’t prove much fun either.
David Button: After last season’s triumphant return to Brentford, this wasn’t a trip to Griffin Park that Button will look back on fondly. The reason that Slavisa Jokanovic keeps picking the former Bee is his distribution from the back, especially with the ball at his feet, but that was well below-par yesterday. Button also was at least partly at fault for the sloppy Brentford equaliser when Sergi Canos’ shot squirmed under his body. It might have taken a deflection but the goalkeeper shouldn’t still have done better. Made a couple of good reaction saves from Barbet after the break – but the momentum of the match shifted following the hosts’ equaliser. 5
Ryan Fredericks: Produced a brilliant break down the right to create Fulham’s goal with an inviting cross from which Kebano profited at the back post. Looked very lively going forward all afternoon, but once the Whites were reduced to ten man had to moderate those instincts to try and support an overworked defence. Can’t escape questioning for allowing Canos to cut inside in the box before he struck that crucial leveller, either. 6
Tomas Kalas: Looked a little shakier than usual at the heart of a visiting defence that badly missed the reassuring presence of Tim Ream. Brentford got little change out of the Czech before their equaliser and he was up to the physical challenge in the air, but played a few misjudged passes and went on one mazy dribble in the second half that left the defence badly exposed when he lost the ball. 5
Denis Odoi: An afternoon to forget for the Belgian, whose impetuousness got the better of him. Odoi might have been an adequate stand-in at centre half at Reading and Leeds but he was badly found out yesterday. Jokanovic could have brought him off when he fell heavily following a collision outside the Fulham box, but Odoi should equally have heeded Bobby Madeley’s warning that he would be dismissed after another foul when he scythed down Watkins. It was the height of stupidity to check the former Exeter attacker right in front of the referee and his assistant a few minutes later – and Fulham paid the penalty. 4
Ryan Sessegnon: Sessegnon looked lively when raiding forward from left back and enjoyed galloping in the gaps behind the Brentford back line at will in the first half. Fulham’s adventurous system is predicated on the full backs bombing forward but, with the game in the balance as they pressed for an equaliser, the visitors were punished when the teenager’s enthusiasm saw him surrender possession in an advanced position – and Brentford broke to score the clinching third one with five minutes later. 5
Kevin McDonald: Probably Fulham’s best performer. Whilst the Whites were at their full compliment, McDonald’s positioning and reading of the game allowed him to pick off most of Brentford’s attacks. His sullen scowl towards Button following the equaliser was almost a carbon copy of the one we saw at Sheffield the other week after Leon Clarke’s second. Did well as a makeshift centre back after Odoi’s dismissal but the Whites’ backline was severely overworked by that point. 7
Ollie Norwood: Neat and tidy in midfield but the Northern Irish midfielder will have been disappointed not to make more of impact during a first half where Fulham were largely in the ascendancy. Norwood lashed two presentable opportunities, one from a set-play and another fashioned from a Fredericks cross, high into the Ealing Road – and gave the ball away when possession was at a premium after the sending off. 6
Tom Cairney: It was encouraging to see the Fulham captain dictating the play from central midfield again after clearly managing that troublesome knee injury for so long. Jokanovic’s tactical tweaks seemed to leave the Scottish playmaker a little too deep for my liking, often orchestrating Fulham’s attacks from the halfway rather than trying to get on the end of them. He almost dragged the Whites back into the game with a dipping effort from outside the box but it struck the bar. 6
Sheyi Ojo: There was plenty of effort and endeavour from the Liverpool loanee, but this was ultimately a frustrating afternoon. He failed to beat Bentley twice when he burst through on goal, but Fulham also didn’t feed his intelligent running often enough. Ojo could have brought the visitors level shortly after Brentford went ahead, but you couldn’t fault his work-rate as the winger kept on tracking back. He even escorted Watkins deep into Fulham territory for the move that led to the hosts’ leveller but he didn’t attempt the cynical foul that could have reduced the danger. 6
Stefan Johansen: You almost felt sorry for the Norwegian who, after fighting off both a groin injury and illness to win a place in the starting line-up in the derby, was shoehorned into an almost-number 10 role that appeared more suited to his captain. Johansen’s deployment as an advanced playmaker meant the side didn’t benefit from his boundless energy and his afternoon was one of frustration as he failed to link effectively with his midfield colleagues as what Jokanovic described as ‘a fake striker’. 4
Neeskens Kebano: The Congolese wide man’s day mirrored Fulham’s. Ecstasy unconfined when he scuffed home Fredericks’ pull-back to put the Whites ahead – and torpor once the hosts had regained a footing in the contest. Lively down the flank in the first half he appeared the biggest threat to Brentford’s blossoming hopes but faded badly once the Bees assumed control. 6
Rui Fonte (on for Kebano, 63): All of Jokanovic’s changes seemed late and odd – especially after Odoi’s early bath meant Fulham had to go for it so soon after losing parity. The Portuguese forward was asked to play right wing, a role where he looks distinctly uncomfortable, but he gave it everything and produced one lovely turn to work space into the box to go with a beautiful ball behind the Brentford back line but you felt he would have been more effective as the main forward. 5
Luca de la Torre (on for Johansen, 77): Jokanovic showed a lot of faith in the Texan midfielder when he threw him on with the Whites behind. He buzzed around intelligently and never stopped showing for the ball but had few options ahead of him with only nine outfield team-mates to find. This wasn’t the ideal introduction to the intensity of a local derby, but the American teenager will have learnt an awful lot from the experience. 5
Jordan Graham (on for Ojo, 86): A thankless task for the Wolves loanee, who was brought on just after Watkins had given Brentford a two-goal lead. This was our first senior sighting of Graham since he was given a brief outing at Burton and he looked eager to impress, showing energy in covering every blade of grass, as well as delivering a dangerous cross that Fonte could have made more of. You were left wondering what impact he might have had earlier.