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Reed rues Fulham’s lack of killer instinct

Harrison Reed was left ruing Fulham’s failure to kill off Bristol City after the Robins roared back to claim a point at Ashton Gate.

The Fulham substitute made a real impact alongside Neeskens Kebano after coming off the bench at half time to perk up a lacklustre Fulham attack. The Whites went in front four minutes after the interval through Aleksandar Mitrovic but spurned numerous chances to extend their lead and paid the penalty when Kasey Palmer turned home an equaliser with ten minutes left.

Reed told FFC TV after the final whistle:

“We’re all disappointed with that one today. We came here, we needed to show a reaction again and the slow start probably cost us today. We got going in the second half, especially in the first fifteen or twenty minutes, found ourselves a goal ahead and then we needed to kill the game.

We needed to come on, bring the energy and lift the boys. I felt like we did that. We just needed to carry on. We needed to score two or three and kill the game.”

Reed remains doubtful for Reading

Harrison Reed may miss Fulham’s meeting with Reading tomorrow after limping out of Wednesday’s win at Birmingham City.

The central midfielder made his first start of the season for the Whites at St. Andrews but was substituted midway through the second half of Fulham’s 4-1 victory having suffered a leg injury. Head coach Marco Silva told today’s pre-match press conference:

“It’s nothing serious. didn’t have much of a pre-season and he has an issue with his leg, but we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

There is better news regarding Harry Wilson, who was substituted towards the end of the Blues clash. Silva said that the Welsh winger was withdrawn due to tiredness and that he will be available to face Reading. Josh Onomah, who missed the midweek trip to the Midlands, is also fit to play.

Teenage playmaker Fabio Carvalho remains sidelined with a toe injury and Silva revealed that it is too early to say whether he will be able to return at Bristol City next weekend.

“Tuesday for Fabio looks difficult but he might be all right for the game after that.”

The Fulham boss is reading nothing in Reading’s disappointing start to the season and knows that the Royals will be determined to end their winless away run.

“Their previous results mean nothing. A team that has scored six goals in their last two performances suggest they can create chances and score goals. It will be a tough game.”

Fulham fight their way back to winning ways

If there was a perception that Fuham might prove a soft touch on their travels following the weekend defeat at Blackpool, then Marco Silva’s side dispelled it last night at St. Andrew’s. The manner of the victory was instructive. Fulham were far from in full control. Birmingham battled, slung in a succession of crosses and at times looked to be dominating the midfield battle but Lee Bowyer’s side were ultimately sunk by Fulham’s ruthlessness in front of goal.

Silva said afterwards that Harry Wilson was the first player he approached the board about after agreeing to take over from Scott Parker in the summer. It is obvious to see why. Wilson has some pedigree at this level – and totally transforms Fulham as an attacking proposition when he is in the side. A willing and intelligent runner, whose darts inside are likely to deliver plenty of goals, he can also whip in a dangerous corner – something the Whites have sorely missed in recent years. His signature move, cutting in from the right flank onto his stronger right foot, seems far less predictable that Anthony Knockaert’s and, in this irrepressible form, the Welshman appears unstoppable.

A word too on Aleksandar Mitrovic would be appopriate as the Serbian celebrates his 27th birthday. Silva insisted that Mitrovic would take Fulham’s next penalty after missing from the spot against Stoke City – and he was true to his word. Mitrovic looked much more decisive in dispatching this one into the bottom corner and put a far more convincing gloss on the scoreline as the clock ticked down. Fulham’s fourth goal owed everything to his desire to prove there’s much more to his game than merely poaching goals. He stripped Marc Roberts of possession on the halfway line, sauntered down the left flank and slipped in Jean-Michael Seri with a beautifully disguised reverse ball. When the return pass landed at his feet, you knew what was going to happen. His exclusion from a struggling side last season seems even more perplexing with each week.

Silva’s rotation probably came a few days too late but there were something interesting things to note. On his hundredth Fulham appearance, Joe Bryan gave a masterclass in how to fulfil the role of a modern full back. He was eager to get forward, as ever, but remained responsible, wary of Birmingham’s own attacking threat, at the same time. Tosin Adarabioyo was outstanding at the heart of the visiting defence – heading away countless aerial balls as the Blues took a more direct route to goal, particularly in the first half.

The clearest change came in the shape of Fulham’s midfield. The loss of Josh Onomah to injury, and Fabio Carvalho’s continued absence with a toe complaint, meant Silva would have to select different personnel in the engine room but he went with a slightly different shape to what we have seen before as well. Seri seemed to sit a deeper than in previous outings, with Harrison Reed playing slighly further forward alongside Nathaniel Chalobah, who was outstanding on his Fulham debut. The trio outnumbered Birmingham in the centre of the park and, whilst they certainly didn’t have it all their own way in what was a pretty even contest, they definitely made Fulham tougher to play through. Chalobah and Seri had notable roles in three of Fulham’s goals on a very encouraging night.

The set up of Fulham’s three central midfielders also had a knock on effect for the forward line as well. Wilson and Bobby Decordova-Reid were stationed very wide and pushed forward to join Mitrovic in attack – in an attempt to stretch Birmingham’s back three, which worked wonderfully well. It was a clear plan for this fixture, with Lee Bowyer always keen to push his wing-backs on, and the visitors got great joy down the flanks. This was one of those games where the preparation for the opposition really paid off.

The scoreline may ultimately have flattered Fulham, as Birmingham were punished for defensive lapses whilst Paulo Gazzaniga made a number of second half saves, but this was precisely the response to the Blackpool abberation that Silva would have sought. Bowyer is building a combative and competitive side and I don’t think many teams will score four at St. Andrew’s this season.

Reed, Ream and Carvalho fit for Stoke

Harrison Reed, Tim Ream and Fabio Carvalho are all available for selection as table-topping Fulham prepare to host third-placed Stoke City in an intriguing Championship tussle at Craven Cottage tomorrow.

Marco Silva had been worried about whether Ream and Carvalho would recover from knocks that saw them both substituted in Fulham’s last league outing against Hull City last weekend – and the Fulham head coach also received a boost when Reed, who has yet to feature so far this season, has been passed fit having returned to training after ankle problems. The Whites are still without long-term absentees Tom Cairney and Terence Kongolo, whilst Silva suggests that Kenny Tete’s hamstring strain could see the club enter the transfer market to sign a new right back.

“The injury to Kenny Tete changes our plans. We didn’t expect to have to get someone in, but we have to try and get someone in for that position. Kenny is going to be out longer than we thought. It’s more serious than we first thought.”

The Fulham boss believes Stoke will represent Fulham’s toughest test of the season so far.

“As always it will be a tough game. Stoke City are a good side with a good plan, good idea. They’re clear with their idea of the way they want to play. They will be a tough side to beat, in my opinion. hey started the season well, they look confident, and they will come here to do their best, and we – Fulham Football Club – at our best level, we can win the game.

“We have our responsibilities in the game. We’re playing at home, with our fans behind us, and we have to play at our best. We’ve started well, but myself and the football club always want more. We respect all our opponents, and nobody has won anything before the game has been played.”

Decordova-Reid and Onomah ready to return

Bobby Decordova-Reid and Josh Onomah are available for selection as Fulham look to continue their unbeaten start to the season against Hull City tomorrow.

Decordova-Reid missed the midweek win at Millwall with a minor knock sustained in training, whilst Onomah was withdrawn at half-time at the New Den on Tuesday after taking a number of heavy challenges. Fulham boss Marco Silva told his pre-match press conference that both players have proven their fitness and could feature in his starting line-up.

The Whites are still without Tom Cairney and Terence Kongolo and, although Harrison Reed has been training with the side again this week after his ankle issues, Silva says that he remains doubtful and ‘needs more time’.

“Tom is still out. Harrison Reed started training with the team and is working with them. He’s doubtful for this match and needs more time. But Bobby is available and Josh is 100% fine.”

Silva is looking forward to facing one of his former sides at Craven Cottage tomorrow and won’t be underestimating the challenge posed by Grant McCann’s men.

“It will be a difficult game again. They had a very good first away match. This season they started with an away game with a good score and a good win for them. We’ll respect them, they are a strong team on the counter attack, they like to be compact and then counter attack. They have good players, fast players on the sides as well. They can play good football, they have this quality, and you have to be aware.”

It will be a special game for me, definitely it will be a special game for me. It’s a special club, a great club that I had the pleasure to work for when I first arrived in England to manage in the Premier League. It has special people, special fans as well. The way they welcomed us to that club was special and we’ll never forget that situation.”