Resident teacher Lydia gives her marks out of 10 for the boys for last night’s win over Derby County
What a night.
Where should I begin? It’s hard for me to not give every player 10/10 for purely sentimental reasons, and because I was such an emotional wreck last night that the game is now pretty much a complete blur, but I’ll try to be logical with my ratings as possible.
Marcus Bettinelli- 7
Our man between the sticks wasn’t massively tested last night but stood firm when he was called into action. He did make a key save from Cameron Jerome shortly after Fulham had pulled themselves level on aggregate which was crucial. His distribution was very good and he set AK away with a monstrous throw just before half time that led to a good chance. The sight of him waving a Fulham flag while being carried on the shoulders of fans at the end of the game was simply beautiful.
Matt Targett- 7
That old cliché ‘a game of two halves’ fits perfectly when it comes to the Southampton loanees’ performance. In the first half he looked nervous and gave the ball away on a number of occasions while too many of his corners failed to beat the first man. He did put a pinpoint cross in for Mitrovic which would have opened the scoring but for a fantastic save from Scott Carson, but it was a poor half in general for the right back. The second half couldn’t have been more of a contrast though. I can’t remember him giving the ball away once and it was his cross to Johansen that helped to set up the first goal. If that’s the last time he will play for Fulham at the Cottage then it’s the sort of performance to bow out with.
Denis Odoi- 8
Scored the winner with one of the best headers I have ever seen live. One of the shortest men on the pitch, the Belgium out jumped everybody else to guide his header beyond the stranded Carson. There was a split second when his header hit the back of the net were nobody moved as 25,000 people tried to process what had just happened, but when the realisation hit that we were in front there was an explosion by the Thames. Aside from the goal I thought Odoi’s performance was brilliant. I can understand why Slav prefers him to Kalas because he is much better with the ball at his feet and while this sometimes causes minor heart attacks amongst the support, it’s an important aspect of our play.
Tim Ream- 9
Without a doubt our defensive hero. Wins headers for fun and did a brilliant job of keeping Jerome, Edwards, Vydra and Lawrence reasonably quiet throughout. He did have a nervy moment when he sent the ball back to Bettinelli under zero pressure with a bit too much on it resulting in a corner, inviting unnecessary pressure, but overall it was another assured performance from the American.
Ryan Fredericks- 6
Fredericks has looked tired recently and last night wasn’t one of his better performances. He whipped up and down the line as usual but his final ball didn’t really cause too much trouble in the Derby box, which was frustrating considering he got himself into a lot of good positions. Unless Fredericks reaches the byline his crossing can be questionable. He did nearly open the scoring with a thunderous effort in the first half but Carson got his fingertips to the shot. Overall, I reckon Fredericks will be keen to improve on last night’s showing at Wembley.
Kevin McDonald- 8
Give the man the armband next season. I wrote in a previous article that McDonald has become the player that we were missing for so long since the likes of Dickson Etuhu. He sits just in front of the defence providing a level of protection whilst also allowing the more creative players to do their thing further up the pitch. My moment of the match was just after Odoi’s header when Derby made a couple of subs so McDonald used the opportunity to gee up every side of the ground. He also made a number of key tackles when Derby looked to go on the break. It was a powerful performance from the Scotsman.
Tom Cairney- 8
Cairney has received a bit of criticism recently, but last night was much more of the player we saw for much of last season. He controlled the game and was a calm head in the centre of the park which is exactly what we needed from our captain. Perhaps should have done better with his tame effort in the first half but his range of passing was eye catching. I had thought that he over played the ball a few times, but on each occasion, he kept the ball under pressure from a number of Derby midfielders and I can’t actually think of an occasion when he gave the ball away! He looked genuinely emotional walking onto the pitch and he thrived off the atmosphere.
Stefan Johansen- 9
After a dreadful game for Stef Jo at Pride Park on Friday night, last night he was fantastic. He covered every blade of grass and was part of so much good about Fulham. He tested Carson on a number of occasions and set up the goal for Sess with a beautiful chest down from Targett’s cross. While I have been a critic of Johansen’s nasty side this season, I won’t lie and say that I didn’t go nuts with excitement when he took down Jerome and earned a blatant yellow card. You need players to take one for the team on occasion which can be the difference between winning and losing at times.
Ryan Sessegnon- 9
Got the equaliser and then the assist for the winner. It was the sort of level headed performance that we sometimes don’t even see from the most experienced of players in the biggest of games never mind from a seventeen-year-old. Last season he showed enough bottle to silence a boisterous St James’ Park crowd, so I have absolute faith that he can do it at Wembley. His movement for the first goal was an example of just how good he is. Just pulling away from Wisdom and Keogh in a split second allowing Johansen to find him and then the composure to take a touch and rifle his effort into the roof of the net was marvellous. The boy has an incredible future ahead of him, and I am so chuffed that we have gotten to see him grow and flourish so much over the past few seasons.
What a stroke of genius from Slav to throw him in the side ahead of Ayite or Piazon. He is easily the most improved player in this Fulham side since the summer and is an example of just how good Slav and co’s coaching really is. The Villa defence had no idea what to do with him and you get the feeling that he will start at Wembley as well. He would have gotten 9/10 if it wasn’t for his dive, although I have to say that I found that absolutely hilarious at the time. However, he can’t make a habit of it as referee’s will cotton on quick.
Aleksandar Mitrovic- 9
Curtis Davies had a lot joy taking care of Mitrovic on Friday night but last night he will have left the Cottage with nothing but nightmares. Although he didn’t score, Mitrovic was vital to so many of Fulham’s attack whether it was holding up play, drawing defenders in or else just turning them and having a go himself. It was the sort of performance that is nearly impossible to play against as a defender, and shows why he has been so key to Fulham’s form since January. 3 games is the longest he has went without scoring for Fulham so surely he will get one at Wembley, yeah?
Neither Kalas or Norwood were really on for long enough but both players came on and did exactly what was required of them for us to see the game out.
Roll on Wembley.