Slavisa Jokanovic gave an honest assessment of Fulham’s display in Friday’s comprehensive defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Whites were the better side for the opening 25 minutes but fell behind when Tomer Hemed converted a soft penalty after a weak challenge by Richard Stearman on James Wilson sent the Brighton man tumbling to the floor.
An unmarked Hemed added a second soon after when he headed home a free-kick and the floodgates opened after the restart. Bruno Salter, Hemed and Anthony Knockaert all scored as the Whites’ four-game unbeaten run came to an end.
“I’m disappointed,” said the Head Coach. “We generally offered Brighton so many easy chances to score goals and that’s frustrating. After half an hour they got a silly penalty and made it very difficult for us to compete. After that it was set-piece after set-piece.
“At the beginning we stuck to our plan. We moved the ball and we maintained possession. After we’d made a few mistakes we started to play long balls. We didn’t show the character to try and continue with our game plan and play football. They scored five goals and we’re lucky they didn’t score more.”
Asked about the spot-kick that got the ball rolling for the Seagulls, Jokanovic said: “We’ve given 11 penalties away this season. We need to maintain our concentration for longer periods. We can’t put the referee in the dilemma where he needs to make a call whether it’s a penalty or not.
“We’re unable to defend set-pieces. We’ve conceded more than 30 goals from these kind of situations. It’s very complicated to recover after those set-pieces.
“We’ve now conceded another three set-pieces tonight. We cannot compete for important things in the future if we’re unable to defend set-pieces.
“If we want to be competitive next season we have to improve but we also have to be thinking about this season still. We’re not safe and that’s clear. After three good games we’ve not shown the same face tonight.”
Fulham must quickly dust themselves down with another away trip on Tuesday night, this time at Ipswich Town. The Whites will be hoping to have the likes of Tom Cairney and Michael Madl fit for selection, but Rohan Ince will return to the squad having not been able to play against his parent club at the Amex.
“Rohan Ince is available again,” said Jokanovic. “The other players we’ll have to assess.”