It was an extraordinary game against West Ham on Tuesday. As chances aplenty went begging, Fulham rode their luck through a nervy opening period, and then came back strongly to play some outstanding football and eventually win the match by a very comfortable margin.
One of the big successes of the evening was winger Bobby Petta. In only his second start for the Club since arriving from Celtic, he was the catalyst for many of the good things that Fulham achieved attacking-wise.
The Dutchman has been in the unenviable position of trying to achieve match-sharpness while not actually playing on a regular basis. He admitted it felt good to get the chance against West Ham.
“I was very happy to get selected,” he said. “I hadn’t played all that much for Celtic so I’m a bit behind everybody else in terms of fitness. It was good to play the whole game against Cheltenham when I first arrived, but since then I’ve been sub and just played bits and pieces. So to start the game against West Ham was very nice.
“I had a bit of cramp after seventy minutes that I couldn’t get rid of so I had to come off. I think it’s probably just down to match fitness; I felt really good but I just couldn’t shake off the cramp.
“I’m very critical of myself, and there were lots of times when I thought I should have done better, the end pass wasn’t always there the way I would like it to be. But it’s something for me to work on and I thought I did better the longer the game went on.”
Petta was able to appreciate what a great spectacle the game was – even if the openness of the match did nothing for the nerves of either set of supporters.
“It was a good attractive game,” he said. “In the first half they had a lot of chances to score. We were quiet as a team in that first half but after the break we came out and had most of the play. Obviously we got the goals, and at the end of the day that’s what counts.
“There were a lot of chances for both sides. But it was an FA Cup game, and really that’s the sort of game you want in a competition like this. It was up and down and backwards and forwards, and as I say, there were lots of chances for both teams. That’s great really, as long as you get the result going your way at the end!
“Our away form hasn’t been great, and I know it was the Cup and not the Premiership, but it was a fantastic result to get the away win and that will give us a big boost for the games to come.”
So it’s Manchester United up next and just about as big and important a week as it can possibly get. It’s times like this that the fans have dreamt of for so many years, and it seems the players don’t think any differently.
“Big games like these ones are what the players want,” Petta said. “All that has been on our mind this week is getting through Tuesday’s game and getting a win. Now we can look forward to Man Utd on Saturday and then look forward to taking them on in the Cup the following week. It’s a fantastic stadium, the atmosphere will be tremendous, and of course we have already beaten them there this season.
“I think that will make us realise that we have a chance there. They are a very good side and it will be very difficult, but basically we have nothing to lose – the pressure is all on them.
“They’ve obviously got their Champions’ League games to play, so perhaps they will have to shuffle their side a bit, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
“This could turn out really, really well for us. We’ve had to work very hard to get where we are in the League; we’ve obviously not done all that well over the last few weeks, but the West Ham result could really turn the season around for us.
“But I think everybody can really look forward to these games now and a good finish to the end of the season. Obviously we’re looking forward to a top-ten position, and I’ve never been to Cardiff so going there would be a nice way to end the season. This is football and anything can happen.
“Firstly we’ve got to do well against Man Utd at home, and if we can get a good result in that game then we’ll go their place really buzzing.”