A much improved Fulham side, who played the second half with ten men, could not stop their slump as they were beaten one nil by Blackburn Rovers.
Caretaker manager Kit Symons, taking charge of his first game, made three changes to the Fulham side that were beaten 5-3 by Nottingham Forest in midweek. Marcus Bettinelli replaced Gabor Király in goal, Lasse Vigen Christensen came into the midfield for Nikolay Bodurov, and a surprise recall for Bryan Ruiz, making his first appearance for Fulham since December 28th of last year. With these changes, Fulham lined up in a new system of 4-3-2-1, with Ruiz and McCormack on either wing, with Hugo Rodallega through the middle.
Blackburn also made three changes, with Jason Steele and Shane Duffy starting for the first time this season since moving to Rovers in the Summer, ahead of Paul Robinson and Matthew Kilgallon respectively. Lee Williamson also came in for Craig Conway in the centre of midfield, which pushed Tom Cairney out wide right, as Blackburn lined up in a 4-4-1-1, with Rudy Gestede playing off Jordan Rhodes.
It was a quiet start to match, with Fulham looking the most likely to make something happen, but Blackburn coped well with early Fulham pressure. The first real chance fell to Rovers winger Ben Marshall in the 12th minute, who after scoring 3 in his last two games, burst down the left hand side, but put his shot wide of the near post. Fulham’s first chance fell to the Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz. After a cut back by Amorebieta, Ruiz set himself on the edge of the box but blazed his shot high into the Putney End.
33 minutes in and Fulham should have taken the lead. Tom Cairney was hassled on the ball by the outstanding Scott Parker, who won the ball and slipped through a pass to Hugo Rodallega. Closing in on goal, Rodallega let fly from just outside the box, and his shot whistled just post Steele’s post. It was a huge chance for Fulham, and the Colombian should have at least tested the Blackburn keeper.
Then, as the game was meandering towards half-time, Fulham were down to ten men. Defender Shaun Hutchinson charged forward out of defence with the ball, but lost it under a heavy touch. Lee Williamson was racing in to intercept, when Hutchinson slid in on Williamson studs up. It was a dangerous tackle, and referee Andy D’Urso was quick to show the red card. Williamson was stretched off with an oxygen tank, to applause from all corners of the ground. Craig Conway replaced Williamson with Tom Cariney moving into the centre of midfield, with Ben Marshall swapping wings and playing on the right with Conway on the left.
Hutchinson apologised to Williamson after the match and Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer said that Williamson had not suffered any break and was able to walk out with just a heavy scar on his leg.
The second half started, with Fulham making a tactical switch in moving Stafylidis to left-back and Amorebieta coming into the centre of defence, with Ruiz playing as a left-midfielder, as Fulham changed to a 4-4-1. Blackburn made a substitution at half-time, with Chris Taylor coming on in the middle of midfield for Tom Cairney, who suffered a few knocks in the first half.
Blackburn started the second half the brighter, as Gestede had a shot from a tight angle saved by Bettinelli. Conway then found space on the edge of the area but hit his shot well off target. Sustained Rovers pressure was only going to bring one thing, and the goal eventually arrived in the 58th minute.
Conway attacked down the left and pulled the ball back to the centre of the box where it reached Corry Evans. Evans hit a first time volley that cruelly deflected off Dan Burn and fell straight into the path of Rhodes. From six yards out, Rhodes was never going to miss as he shifted the ball onto his right foot, and toe poked the ball home past Bettinelli.
The goal seemed to breath new life into Fulham, as minutes later they had a great chance. Great play again from Scott Parker, who ran from deep and played the ball out wide to Hoogland, switched the ball to the right where an unmarked McCormack waited. He shot from a tight angle, and only the boot of Jason Steele stopped it from being one apiece.
Blackburn then had a chance to finish the game, as Rhodes rounded the Fulham keeper, but found his shot blocked well by Burn. Fulham then took off Bryan Ruiz, who looked short of match fitness, and replaced him with George Williams. He almost provided the assist in the 80th minute for Hoogland, who flashed his shot perilously close.
The final ten minutes was total Fulham domination, who threw everything at the Rovers’ back line, but the Lancashire side managed to stand firm, condemning Fulham to another defeat, although this was a performance that the Fulham fans could be proud of.
|Marcus Bettinelli Had no chance with the goal, and was solid enough throughout, without being spectacular.||6.5|
|Tim Hoogland Returned to his natural right back position and looked good defensively, going forward he was less effective. Booked.||6.0|
|Shaun Hutchinson Was looking solid before a needless lunge in on Williamson. With eleven men it could have been a different game.||4.0|
|Dan Burn The 6ft7 defender dealt well with the aerial presence of Rudy Gestede, and looked solid. Was unlucky to see the ball deflect of his leg into the path of Jordan Rhodes, who then scored from it.||6.5|
|Fernando Amorebieta Solid at the back, but going forward looked weak. Booked.||6.0|
|Lasse Vigen Christensen Only making his fourth Fulham start, the youngster looked good in periods. Lacks experience with distribution, but that will come with more playing time||6.5|
|Scott Parker Was outstanding in the middle of midfield. Dictated the game, broke up play, and set Fulham on the attack countless times. A complete performance. MOTM.||8.5|
|Konstantinos Stafylidis Worked hard playing on the left hand side, but never really got into the game.||5.5|
|Bryan Ruiz Showed glimpses of way Fulham paid £10.6 million for him three years ago, but looked a long way short of match fitness.||6.0|
|Hugo Rodallega Worked hard against two big units in Shane Duffy and Grant Hanley, but was isolated too often. Had a great chance to score at 0-0.||5.5|
|Ross McCormack Did not have a great game. Stuck out wide left he was always on the edge of the attacks, and was rarely involved much. Came into the game a bit more when Fulham were pushing for it, and was unlucky not to score. Booked.||5.0|
|George Williams Added pace to Fulham’s attack, almost got an assist as well.||6.5|
|Patrick Roberts Made a good few runs, but had little time to make any really impact on the game.||6.5|
|Jason Steele Made his debut for Blackburn, and was superb. Claimed the ball well from corners, and made a great save from McCormack. His kicking radar was a bit off at times.||7.5|
|Alex Baptiste Not a natural right back but played well. Defensively looked comfortable against McCormack. Going forward is a weakness though.||6.5|
|Grant Hanley Outstanding in the air against Rodallega, distribution off at times, and when players ran at him he looked nervous.||6.5|
|Shane Duffy Another debutant and another solid performance. Did the simples well, and always looked comfortable dealing with Rodallega.||7.0|
|Markus Olsson Good going forward, still looks suspect in defence. Nothing spectacular.||6.5|
|Tom Cairney Out on the right, as will happen when Rovers play away. Normally dominates the midfield wherever he is, but was not at his best today. Subbed at half time.||5.5|
|Lee Williamson Was looking solid in midfield, although Parker at times dominated him. Suffered what thankfully was not a horrific injury from Hutchinson’s lunge. Subbed.||6.0|
|Corry Evans Solid enough. Looked weak whenever he went up against Parker, but did well nonetheless. His deflected shot was key to Rhodes’ goal. Booked.||6.5|
|Ben Marshall After three goals in two games, Marshall was off his game today. Shot wide early on but did not do much after that.||6.0|
|Rudy Gestede Had his work cut out against Burn today, but looked a menace at all times.||6.5|
|Jordan Rhodes Scored the crucial goal. Did not do a lot else, held up the ball well, but Rhodes is a finisher and he did what comes naturally to him today. Subbed late on.||7.0|
|Craig Conway His good wing play played a key role in the goal and he provided a constant threat.||7.0|
|Chris Taylor Had a solid game, looked better attacking through the middle then defending.||6.5|
|Luke Varney Made a nuisance of himself, but gave the ball away cheaply at times when Rovers were defending towards the end.||5.5|
Man of the Match
|Scott Parker If Parker plays like this every week, Fulham will eventually start to turn it around. Was outstanding in the centre of the park today, and showed why he is one of the best at what he does in the League. A true captain’s performance, and was unlucky to end up on the losing side.||8.5|