Chris Martin says he loves being the ‘pantomime villain’ when he plays Ipswich Town – and the former Norwich City striker played the role to perfection as he scored Fulham’s first goal in a 2-0 win at Portman Road this afternoon.
The on-loan Derby County striker takes a far bit of stick from the Ipswich crowd due to his previous association with the Canaries, but the Scotland international revealed that the hot reception he receives only serves to help him up his game. Speaking to Fulham’s official website after the game, Martin said:
I enjoy playing here actually. I’m a bit of a pantomime villain every time I visit, having come through just down the road at Norwich. It gives it that extra little bit of spice for me. It’s all good fun, joining in with the crowd and whatnot, but the most important thing was that we came away with another hard fought win, but one that I think we thoroughly deserved.
Martin’s goal came crucially towards the end of a first half that Fulham had dominated and was the result of a fine free-kick that resulted from a foul on Stefan Johansen. The striker, who scored with a similar effort against Reading earlier this month, was the early favourite to take it – despite the set-piece talents of the Norwegian and Tom Cairney.
When I take a free-kick the all important thing is trying to get it over the wall, and that will give the ‘keeper the challenge of trying to get across. I always knew where I was going to put it but perhaps he thought I was going to go the other side or that Stefan [Johansen] was going to take it. But I was absolutely delighted to see it go in, especially after how we dominated the first half.
With the chances we created it would have been a travesty if we didn’t have a lead heading into half-time, so it was an important time to score. It took the weight off a little bit and I was just happy to see us go on to win the game.
He admitted that there was a good deal of relief after substitute Ragnar Sigurdsson headed the vital second goal with twelve minutes to go after Fulham had passed up a number of good chances to make the game safe.
It’s been a pretty similar pattern for quite a lot of our games. We normally dominate the ball, have a lot of possession, create a lot of chances, but it’s about how ruthless and how good we can be in that final third. We didn’t quite get it right today I don’t think, even though we came away with a very good 2-0 win, we could have made it much more comfortable for ourselves, both in the first and second half.
With the chances we had to make it 2-0, it was a hell of a relief when Ragnar popped up with that second goal. Once that went in we were breathing a little easier. But, like I said, I thought we thoroughly deserved it, we played some excellent stuff against a tough team. I’ve been in some real battles here at Portman Road but we played really well and the only negative was the fact that we didn’t score a few more goals.
Martin saluted his side’s character and defensive discipline as they recorded another clean sheet that leaves the Whites just outside the play-off places going into Friday’s game at Reading.
I thought we defended extremely well as a team. The two centre-halves were very, very good, and Butts [David Button] made an important save at the end of the first half. That’s what you need when you’ve not got the cushion of a two or three goal lead. In certain situations it can be easy to switch off and concede a goal, but that’s something that we haven’t done, and we’ve worked hard on that.
We knew they were going to bombard our box with long balls and I think we stood up to that challenge very well today, which was an important step for us.
It’s going to be another tough game. We were under no illusions about that the last time, although it turned out to be an easier afternoon than we thought it was going to be. “Obviously an away game makes it that little bit tougher, but we’ve got a hell of a lot of confidence from the last few games and the way that we’re playing and creating chances, and we know that we can be a real tough match for anybody.