Preston North End 1-2 Fulham: Player ratings

by Sarah on March 11, 2018

Man-to-man marking from Deepdale as Fulham pulled off another late, late away win …

Marcus Bettinelli: The lonely life of a goalkeeper means that you’re remembered for the horrible clangers you drop rather than the outstanding saves you make. Yesterday was such an afternoon for Bettinelli – after much of the opprobrium this year has been heaped on David Button. The Fulham goalkeeper made two magnificent stops to keep out efforts from Ben Pearson and Ben Davies, but nothing will stick in the memory longer than the horrible howler that saw him allow Sean Maguire’s header to creep under his gloves and into the net for Preston’s wholly-merited equaliser. 6

Ryan Fredericks: Another all-action display from the Fulham full back, who was had his defensive credentials severely tested by Preston’s impressive forward line. The visitors’ threat in the final third increased when Fredericks was able to get forward, which he did much more often after the break, and the right back just seemed to be winning his own individual battle when he was replaced by Cyrus Christie. Given the substitute’s sensational introduction, Jokanovic got that decision absolutely right. 7

Matt Targett: Targett looks so assured at left back it is a wonder that Southampton let him leave on loan. Twice made brilliant saving tackles when Preston’s fluid movement meant he was desperately needed to cover for beaten centre halves. Worked hard to get up in support of Fulham’s attacks as well, although fewer of his crosses found their target here than in previous weeks. 7

Denis Odoi: Excellent again at the back from the Belgian, who looks more and more assured in the continued absence of Tomas Kalas. He’s not a natural centre back as Maguire’s movement showed on occasions, but his will to win is unsurpassed. Looked a little vulnerable during the first 45 minutes, but produced a composed display after the break – save for allowing Maguire the free header from which the hosts levelled matters. 8

Tim Ream: The American had a busy afternoon up against not just Maguire but the clever runs of Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson, who frequently drifted into threatening areas from the wide positions. Twice blocked Preston shots when they looked likely to beat Bettinelli and also employed that elegant passing and know how to take the heat of more than a couple of tricky situations. Fulham will hope his outstanding form continues into the season’s final stretch. 8

Kevin McDonald: Looked a little flustered by Preston’s fast start, being caught out of position on a couple of occasions and sending a few passes astray. Got his bearings and was a key reason for Fulham’s football beginning to pose Alex Neill’s men a few problems before the first half was out, initially on the break. Broke up play far more effectively in the second half and covered his centre backs well when required. 7

Stefan Johansen: Perhaps not up to his recent standards, but the Norwegian never stopped showing for the ball and his energy always posed a problem for the Preston midfield. Did superbly to fashion an unbelievable chance for Mitrovic, which the Serbian somehow squandered before the break, and also did plenty of tracking back the other way. Had a key part to play in a lightning break that nearly led to a classic counter-attacking goal at the death before the injury-time drama. 7

Tom Cairney: Was largely nullified by the brilliant Ben Pearson at the heart of the Preston midfield, but his moments of class really worried the home side. Skipped away from challenges majestically down the right wing at one point in the second half and an inspired moment of quick thinking in stoppage time, when he offered an option for Targett’s throw in and delivered a delicious ball in for Mitrovic settled the contest. On such moments do seasons turn. 7

Floyd Ayite: Had a quiet first half but when he got on the ball, the Togolese international looked a real threat. Played a splendid pass to set Stefan Johansen clear down the left flank in the first half and might have opened the scoring with a rasping drive from distance just after the break. Faded a little and was replaced before the hour mark, but his rapid pace and confidence to pull the trigger shows just why Jokanovic values Ayite. 7

Ryan Sessegnon: The seventeen year-old is perhaps now proving he’s human. Had to do plenty of defensive work during Preston’s high-tempo start and had a quiet first half, but was desperately unfortunate not to put the visitors in front when sliding in at the back post to try and touch home a Fredericks cross. Looked a little leggy by the final ten minutes – which is not surprising given how heavily involved he has been in Fulham’s season – and was replaced by Sheyi Ojo. 6

Aleksandar Mitrovic: What can you say about the super Serbian? This wasn’t shaping up to be one of his better displays during a forgettable first half where he somehow contrived to miss the target from six yards in front of an open goal and seemed to be outmuscled by Paul Huntingdon. But Mitrovic showed just how potent he can be in the opposition penalty area, tucking away the opening from Christie’s clever cut back and then guiding home that vital header in stoppage time. The physical fox in the box Fulham have lacked all season. 9

Substitutes:

Lucas Piazon (on for Floyd Ayite, 58): The Brazilian’s industry might have got unnoticed during a pulsating period of end-to-end action in the second half, but Piazon’s movement in from the right flank gave the visitors another hold-up option in addition to Mitrovic. Worked hard and occupied defenders, without much reward. 6

Cyrus Christie (on for Ryan Fredericks, 67): The Irish international’s introduction had the desired effect within two minutes of replacing Fredericks. A confident run saw him hurdle a cynical lunge from Callum Woods and he produced the perfect cut-back for Mitrovic to break the deadlock. His physical presence gave Fulham a bit of cover in the air and Christie worked hard to blunt Preston’s forward momentum after they equalised. 7

Sheyi Ojo (on for Ryan Sessegnon, 83): Introduced for the tiring Sessegnon and got himself about the pitch, offering some much-needed energy in and around both boxes. His pace worried the Preston back line when he galloped forward, even if he didn’t have much direct impact on proceedings. 6

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