Author Topic: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...  (Read 663 times)

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Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« on: July 22, 2020, 10:03:56 AM »

Bristol City
Preston NE
Sheff Wed
West Brom
« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 11:27:39 PM by whitejc »

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2020, 11:32:37 PM »
Wigan Athletic 1-1 Fulham

Despite the best efforts of their players, Wigan's hopes of survival now rest on an appeal against a 12-point deduction for going into administration

Wigan Athletic have been relegated from the Championship after being held to a draw by a Fulham side who would still have missed out on automatic promotion with a victory.

The Latics, whose 12-point deduction for going into administration means they finish in the bottom three, knew they needed a win and for other results to go their way to avoid the drop.

Their hopes now rest on an appeal against the sanction, while Fulham will have to settle for a play-off place after remaining below both Brentford and West Bromwich Albion, who ended as runners-up.

Wigan's hopes of staying in the division looked good when Kieffer Moore headed them ahead from close range in the first half.

Neeskens Kebano's sublime free-kick drew Fulham level, but Wigan spurned plenty of opportunities to secure the win that would have saved them from dropping into League One.

A remarkable finish at Griffin Park saw Barnsley claim a late win against Brentford to reach 49 points and move third from bottom.

But had Paul Cook's Wigan side made the most of their second-half chances, they would have finished above the Tykes on goal difference - even with their deduction.

Defeats for Hull City and Charlton Athletic see them join Wigan in the bottom three, while Fulham will meet Cardiff City in the two legged play-off semi-finals.

Wigan left to rue wasted chances
The shared desperation for points was reflected in a high-tempo, open game that saw chances aplenty at both ends.

Aleksandar Mitrovic should have put the visitors ahead inside 90 seconds but blasted a shot wildly over the bar from a cross by Kebano, who then had a fierce strike beaten away by keeper David Marshall.

Sam Morsy and Kal Naismith both went close at the other end before Moore headed an increasingly impressive Latics ahead from Nathan Byrne's floated far-post cross.

Kieffer Moore's first-half header was his fourth in five games and his 10th in 36 league appearances this season

Fulham responded, with Josh Onomah, Mitrovic and Harry Arter all sending efforts just off target

And they continued to show greater urgency after the interval, with Kebano's curled free-kick quickly making it 1-1.

But Wigan created the better openings thereafter, with Leon Balogun missing the best of the lot when he somehow headed too near to keeper Marek Rodak when just five yards from goal.

Both sides had further chances in a frantic finish, notably Naismith and Joe Williams for Wigan, who were unable to find the goal that would have saved them on goal difference.

Latics' survival hopes rest with lawyers

Wigan's relegation is particularly cruel given an incredible run of form which has seen them lose just one of their final 15 games.

They matched one of the best sides in the division throughout, but that will be of little consolation and they are now pinning all their hopes on their lawyers earning a late reprieve.

The appeal against the points deduction is due to take place on 31 July, and Wigan have appointed leading barrister, David Phillips QC.

Wigan were placed in administration on 1 July, just weeks after the club changed Hong Kong-based owners. Their argument is nobody - neither at Wigan nor the English Football League - could have known what Au Yeung Wai Kay was going to do and therefore the punishment should be withdrawn.

A preferred buyer for the troubled Latics has been chosen, according to administrator Gerald Krasner, bringing further hope that things are on the up off the pitch.

Match reaction
Wigan manager Paul Cook told BBC Radio Manchester: "I've just got to say how proud I am of the players.

"Unfortunately we're going to feel like we've let them down tonight, that's just the way it'll be, so there's nothing we can do about it.

"I felt the team did as well as they could. I felt we created chances continually in the second half and we just needed one of them to drop and unfortunately it didn't."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2020, 11:33:51 PM »
Head Coach press conference

In a dramatic closing day of the regular Championship season, Scott Parker was happy to have brought the race for automatic promotion to the final possible moment.

“I think we were realistic in the way we framed it. We knew what we had to do tonight and, to bring the season to the last day was a massive positive for us.

“We took it to the wire but it’s not happened for us. We knew that it was well out of our hands tonight, and understood that the likelihood was that we’d be going through the Play-Offs.”

Parker’s side are in red-hot form at the right moment, giving them confidence of a strong showing going into next week’s Play-Off games

“We lost two games coming out of lockdown and since then we’ve been in very good form, the team have done remarkably well – that’s seven unbeaten now.

“Of course, when you are so close there is that element of ‘can we do it?’, but at the same time you’re relying on other teams to slip up

“Now we move on. We go into the Play-Offs now in form and with momentum.”

Wigan’s loss leaves them in difficult circumstances, facing a twelve-point deduction which would see them relegated bar a successful appeal. For Parker, this is a cruel thing to be done bearing in mind the Lactic’s formidable 2020 form.

“I have sympathy for Paul (Cook) and Wigan and the job he’s done because it’s been a fantastic job. To think you have a 12-point deduction and you still need to win the game tonight to stay in the division, I have nothing but sympathy for him.

“We knew the task ahead of us. There was a team here fighting for their lives, had to win the game, had nothing to lose and was going to come out of the blocks firing, and the same could be said about us.

“It was an end-to-end game in the end and both teams knew that they needed to try and win the game. For us, to give us a chance and hope that West Brom slip up, but at the same time Wigan needed to win as well. It becomes a bit of a basketball match at the end -very entertaining. But obviously there is a sympathy for Paul and Wigan certainly.

With all fixtures being played simultaneously tonight, it must’ve been hard for Parker not to keep an eye on how teams around Fulham were doing

When asked if he was checking the scores through the game, Parker said: “Not really. Late on there was an element of it but we went into this game just focused on ourselves.

“Like I said, we knew the task ahead and we were relying on a lot of teams to slip up. Our number one focus was to win the game, worry about ourselves and put ourselves in a position where if we win the game we can see happens, that was our sole focus.

“Of course, the later on the game goes on you hear some feedback from the other grounds. It wasn’t meant to be for us but that the way it is. We’ll be focused and we’ll push now for what is a tough game against Cardiff and we’ll go from there.” conference

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2020, 08:45:03 AM »
Wigan 1-1 Fulham: Visitors miss out on automatic promotion to Premier League and have to settle for play-offs as Latics are relegated to League One following 12-point deduction

    Kieffer Moore headed Wigan in front on 32 minutes on Wednesday night
    Neeskens Kebano scored a sublime free-kick after half-time to level the scores
    Fulham now have to settle for a place in the play-offs after finishing fourth
    Wigan are relegated following 12-point deduction for going into administration
    RE-LIVE all the action from the final day of the Championship as it unfolded

The appeal is going in and the Championship table is accompanied by a huge asterisk. Wigan Athletic are down, yet they are not. Not yet, anyway.

And they do not deserve to be, presumably the only team in history to suffer relegation with a positive goal difference if the 12-point deduction for going into administration is upheld when heard a week on Friday.

Fulham, who head into the play-offs, ended Wigan's resistance to relegation but defiance remained at the DW Stadium. The Latics were fantastic and have been fantastic since January, when they were bottom – seemingly down and out – before a flurry of results that shocked this division. It made Wednesday night all the more heartbreaking, so close to a win that would have completed heroic salvation.

Fulham will have to settle for a place in the play-offs after missing out on an automatic spot

Needing a win at Wigan, Fulham fell behind when Kieffer Moore scored this header

The towering striker celebrates after putting the Latics in front on 32 minutes

'I feel physically sick for everyone,' manager Paul Cook said. 'Where do you start? I've got to say how proud I am of them. I really am. They've been relegated after losing one in 15 games. We're hurting.'

Emotion has poured all week, a video the club produced to chart their 88-year history in particular; the narrator summing them up as 'unique, different… special'.

They are not special but that's exactly the point, is it not? There are 70 other clubs in the EFL - all unique, all special to their own – to whom this abhorrence could befall. It already has to more than a few, that social and economic devastation in communities whose heartbeat depends on football. Clubs are more than just sport in towns like Wigan.

Supporters of other clubs, including a sizeable number from Fulham, have donated season ticket reimbursements to a crowdfunding effort that is ticking beyond £177,000, primarily to help those staff who have not been looked after during the process.

Meanwhile, club directors – still in tears 24 hours after administration was confirmed - have continued unpaid, defiant in the face of oblivion. A new owner, whose identity joint-administrator Gerald Krasner refused to disclose on Wednesday, is waiting in the wings. The incidentals must be agreed by noon on Thursday, the contracts exchanged by July 31.

Fulham levelled the scoreline after half-time when Neeskens Kebano scored this free-kick

Kebano was promptly mobbed by his team-mates after reigniting their automatic hopes

Krasner also warned of a 'definite' two-year transfer embargo and a further 15-point deduction next season, although EFL sources say that punishments will only apply if new club owners are in default of any agreement in relation to secured creditor claims. Wigan fans really do not need any more scaremongering at this juncture; they have heard enough.

Regardless, there was a job to do and Cook's side performed admirably. Fulham were unsettled, Wigan deserving their lead.

In what should be his last game for the club, Kieffer Moore earlier saw one chalked off for offside but went again just after the half-hour, heading home the industrious Nathan Byrne's cross. Fulham equalised four minutes after the break, a breathtaking free-kick by Neeskens Kebano – easily their most progressive player all night – arching away from David Marshall.

Chances came and went for Wigan, Leon Balogun forcing Marek Rodak into a stunning save, Kal Naismith flashing wide. 'They've been growing into superstar footballers,' Cooked added. 'They feel like they've done something wrong but they've done nothing wrong.'

Fulham manager Scott Parker must regroup his side for the play-offs now after finishing fourth

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2020, 08:46:09 AM »
Play-Off Schedule Confirmed

Following Wednesday evening’s results, Fulham’s final position of fourth in the Sky Bet Championship has been confirmed.

We will face fifth place Cardiff City in a two-legged Play-Off Semi Final on the following dates:

    Cardiff City v Fulham – Cardiff City Stadium – Monday 27th July (7.45pm)
    Fulham v Cardiff City – Craven Cottage – Thursday 30th July (7.45pm)

Should the Whites reach the Final, it will be played at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday 4th August (7.45pm).
Please note that Sky Sports hold exclusive rights for all Play-Off fixtures, and therefore we are not permitted to stream any of these matches on FFCtv.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2020, 08:47:11 AM »
Bees join Fulham in play-offs despite QPR holding West Brom

Brentford missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League and will join Fulham in the play-offs – despite QPR holding West Bromwich Albion to a 2-2 draw.

The Bees got the favour they needed from Rangers but a disastrous 2-1 defeat at home to Barnsley – their second successive loss since moving to within a point of Albion – meant they missed out on the top two.

Fulham, who began the night with an outside chance of automatic promotion, drew 1-1 at Wigan.

West Brom are back in the top flight but were made to sweat by Rangers, who went ahead through Ryan Manning’s goal.

The Baggies levelled through Grady Diangana just before half-time and Callum Robinson put them ahead on the hour mark.

But QPR hit back through Ebere Eze’s beautifully-taken goal – meaning Brentford would have gone up had they won.

Trailing to Callum Styles’ opener, Josh Dasilva’s goal hauled them level with 17 minutes remaining.

But Clark Odour’s injury-time goal ended the Bees’ hopes of a fairytale end at Griffin Park, which will host another match.

Meanwhile, Neeskens Kebano’s goal earned Fulham’s point at Wigan after Kieffer Moore had put the home side ahead.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2020, 08:49:19 AM »
Wigan looking to lawyers after Fulham equaliser sends them towards drop

Cruel game, football. At half-time in this game Wigan were on course for one of the greatest last-day escapes in even their battle-scarred history, looking capable of overcoming promotion-chasing Fulham as well as a 12 point deduction for going into administration. Hull, Barnsley and Charlton were going down at that point, though it turned out Fulham had just been pacing themselves in the first half.

Scott Parker’s side came out for the second half looking much more purposeful and were back on terms within four minutes, Neeskens Kebano curling in an unstoppable free-kick after Joe Williams had fouled Joe Bryan on the edge of the area. Wigan had been planning to abandon their appeal against the league’s mandatory points penalty had they managed to win this game and survive, though now it looks as though it will have to be launched, even at a cost of £500,000.

It goes without saying that a club in Wigan’s position can hardly afford such a sum, though they feel both the erratic behaviour of their Hong Kong owners and the unforeseen effect of the Covid-19 pandemic are mitigating circumstances. Wigan’s administrator revealed yesterday that a potential buyer has been found and awarded preferred bidder status, though whether the club will be in the Championship or League One when any sale goes through will be subject to the appeal verdict due at the end of next week.

“I’m too emotional to say much, but I want to say how proud I was of my players, the effort they put in right up to the 95th minute,” Paul Cook said. “I wish Fulham well, and Barnsley too, but I feel physically sick at the moment because when you lose only once in 15 games you shouldn’t be going down. We’ve just got to keep hold of our dignity, because at the moment I can tell you it’s painful.”

Fulham faded a little after their bright start to the second half, allowing Wigan a tantalising number of chances to save themselves. A draw was hardly what the visitors wanted given the way West Brom and Brentford were going about battling over automatic promotion, but Fulham could not find a winner, indeed spent much of the game defending, and will have to settle for the play-off place that always seemed most likely.

Fulham created the early chances, Aleksandar Mitrovic blazing over when in front of goal in the second minute and Kebano bringing a fine save from David Marshall with a rasping drive 12 minutes later, the winger beating Nathan Byrne inside the area to make room for his shot.

The visitors also had a penalty appeal turned down when Marshall got into a tangle with Mitrovic in attempting to clear a loose ball, before the home side began to ask some questions around the half-hour mark. Sam Morsy was only narrowly wide with a shot from outside the box, then Kieffer Moore thought he had put Wigan ahead with a close-range tap-in, only to be recalled for an offside flag.

The tall striker did not have to wait long for another chance, and when Byrne served up a perfectly measured cross from the right two minutes later Moore was in position close to goal to head Wigan in front.

It was to Wigan’s credit, considering the players are only on a fifth of their normal wages, that most of the second-half chances came at the Fulham end. To Cook’s frustration his side were unable to take them. Leon Balogun directed a close-range header straight at Marek Rodak, Kieran Dowell failed to connect with a free header in front of goal and Kal Naismith saw a shot miss the target by inches.

Naismith saw a shot saved in stoppage time when a pass to the overlapping Byrne might have been a better option, before to a man Wigan dropped to the floor at the final whistle. Cue local band The Verve, and their Bittersweet Symphony, an apt enough choice for Wigan at the moment.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2020, 08:51:00 AM »
Championship play-offs: Brentford face Swansea while Cardiff meet Fulham after a dramatic final day

    A dramatic last day of the Championship confirmed the four play-off teams   
    Brentford missed out on the top-two and will now face Swansea in the semi-final
    The Swans defeated Reading 4-1 to dislodge Nottingham Forest in sixth
    Cardiff will face Fulham, who also dropped vital  points on the final day

The final games of the Championship have been played and we now have our four English clubs fighting for the last Premier League promotion spot.

Swansea defeated Reading 4-1 to dislodge Nottingham Forest and claim the final play-off spot.

Elsewhere, Brentford missed out on the opportunity to finish in the top-two by losing 2-1 at home to lowly Barnsley, with West Bromwich Albion taking second spot behind Leeds United.

Brentford will take on Swansea City in the play-off semi-final after missing out on the top two

Fulham face Cardiff in the other semi-final, with the winner of the final getting promotion

Fulham also dropped points on the final day thanks to a 1-1 draw away at Wigan Athletic to finish fourth in the Championship.

Cardiff sealed fifth-place thanks to a 3-0 win over now-relegated Hull City.

Sportsmail reveals when the play-off semi-final and final dates are ahead of the crucial run-in...

When is it?

Championship play-off semi-final take place between July 26th-30th.

The final two teams will then meet on Tuesday, August 4 at Wembley Stadium.
How to watch?

Sky Sports have exclusive broadcasting rights to EFL Championship and will show them on Sky Sports Football.

US viewers can watch the games live on ESPN network and streaming platforms.
Play-offs fixtures


First leg:

Sunday 26 July Swansea City v Brentford - 18.30 kick-off

Monday 27 July - Cardiff City v Fulham - 19.45 kick-off

Wednesday 29 July - Brentford v Swansea City - 19.45 kick-off

Thursday 30 July - Fulham v Cardiff City- 19.45 kick-off

Final (Wembley Stadium)

Tuesday 4 August - 19.45 kick-off

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2020, 08:52:12 AM »
Kebano's strike downs Balogun's Wigan Athletic after Fulham draw

 A share of the spoils at the DW Stadium was not enough to save Paul Cook's men from going down to League One

Leon Balogun’s Wigan Athletic have been relegated from the Championship after settling for a 1-1 draw against Fulham on Wednesday.

They were 13th in the league table before the final game of the season but the Latics were deducted 12 points by the EFL for entering administration which will move them down to the bottom three.

Balogun was in action for 90 minutes at the DW Stadium but his defensive contributions were not enough for the hosts as they registered their third draw in their last five league outings.

Kieffer Moore got Wigan off to a flying start with his opener in the 32nd minute but his opener was cancelled out by DR Congo's Neeskens Kebano who equalised for Fulham four minutes into the second half.

The strike was Keebano's third goal of the season, four days after he opened his account with a brace against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Balogun made his 11th appearance in the second division on Wednesday and he partnered Ivory Coast's Cedric Kipre in the heart of Wigan's defence.

Egypt's Sam Morsy was also in action for the hosts but he was shown a yellow card in the opening 20 minutes of the encounter.

The result had no implication on Fulham's position in the Championship table as they finished fourth with 81 points after 45 matches and they qualify for the play-offs.

After the deduction of the 12 points, Wigan will end the 2019-20 campaign with 47 points and they will drop to 23rd in the standings.

The demotion might come as a blow for Balogun who recently joined the Latics on a permanent deal until the end of the season after his initial loan from Brighton and Hove Albion expired in June.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2020, 08:54:17 AM »
Cardiff City boss Neil Harris heaps 'huge pressure' on big-spenders Fulham ahead of play-off clash

The Bluebirds booked their spot in the play-offs and the manager believes the pressure is all on the Cottagers

Cardiff City manager Neil Harris believes all the pressure will be on Fulham when the pair meet in the play-offs next week.

The Bluebirds ensured their spot in the post-season with a convincing 3-0 win over Hull City on Wednesday night, securing fifth place on a crazy night in which Swansea City ousted Nottingham Forest from the top six.

It means City will now face fourth-placed Fulham at Cardiff City Stadium on Monday evening before playing the return leg on Thursday for the right to feature at Wembley on August 4.

But Harris believes the pressure is firmly on Scott Parker's men with the two sides come to blows next week.

"The message is clear: we get into the play-offs when everyone else is on holiday and that's for one reason, that’s to win", he said after the win over Hull.

"No other reason. We are not going in to make the numbers up, we are going in because we deserve to be there, we deserve to be fifth in the league.

"There is a bit of pressure on us, bit there is huge pressure on Fulham playing against us - a team that should be in the Premier League, given the money they have spent and are now spending .

"We will go and enjoy it."

Talk, of course, will turn to the prospect of an all-Welsh final, given the Swans will have their own play-off tussle with Brentford.

The City boss wouldn't be drawn on a south Wales derby final, but admitted the prospect of having both rivals still in the mix in the play-offs was something he never believed was on the cards.

"I didn’t see that happening, that we would both get in the play-offs," he added. "I just couldn’t see it. But both Welsh clubs deserve it."

Harris, though, did have one tinge of regret following the victory against Grant McCann's side, who were relegated after the defeat.

He was sad that thousands of City fans weren't there to witness it.

"I would have liked our fans to have been there tonight," Harris said. "We would have had a sell-out tonight and they would have carried us through.

"They deserve a special mention. My message to them is have faith, because we are building.

"We have the most passionate fan base of the teams in the play-offs, but we have coped admirably well without them. We have found a way of building our own passion."

They will need that passion against Fulham, of course, and those thousands of Bluebirds fans will doubtless be cheering them on just as loudly from their sofas next week as they would if they were packed inside Cardiff City Stadium.

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2020, 08:55:20 AM »
Neil Harris: Play-off pressure on Fulham, says Cardiff City boss

Neil Harris says the pressure is on Fulham ahead of their play-off semi-final clash with his Cardiff City side.

Cardiff finished fifth in the Championship after a 3-0 win over Hull and will face Fulham in the play-offs with the first leg in Cardiff.

Harris says the money taken to assemble Scott Parker's squad means Fulham must handle the weight of expectation.

"We are the form side in the play-offs, but the league table doesn't lie," he told BBC Sport Wales.

"The message is clear now. We get into the play-offs and extend our season when everyone else is on holiday and you do that for one reason only and that's to win. No other reason.

"There is a little bit of pressure on us but there is huge pressure on Fulham, a team that should be in the Premier League with the money that they have spent and even now are spending. We will go and enjoy it."

Cardiff could yet meet Welsh rivals Swansea in the play-off final after a remarkable climax to the regular season saw them sneak into the play-offs.

Cardiff's rivals won 4-1 at Reading while Nottingham Forest were beaten 4-1 at home by Stoke, meaning Swansea drew level on 70 points with the City Ground side and overcame a five-goal deficit in the goal difference column in the process.

Harris admits he had not believed both Welsh clubs could make it.

"I didn't see that happening, that we would both get in the play-offs, I just couldn't see us both getting there. I just couldn't see it. But both Welsh clubs deserve it," he added.

Harris feels Swansea, like Fulham and Brentford, will be less troubled than Cardiff by a lack of fans in attendance, with games played behind-closed-doors due to coronavirus.

"I would have liked our fans to have been there tonight," Harris added.

"We would have had a sell-out tonight and they would have carried us through. They deserve a special mention.

"We might feel the loss of fans more in the play-offs.

"We do now lose something not having the fans. No disrespect to the other teams, but we have the most passionate fan base of the teams in the play-offs. Teams would fear coming here and maybe we wouldn't feel the same way going away."

Harris also could not resist a dig at Forest after the row between the sides over winger Albert Adomah, who was recalled by his parent club last month.

"I heard people talking about Sabri Lamouchi four weeks ago as the manager of the year in the Championship, they've finished seventh," Harris added.

"They stopped us keeping Albert Adomah to take an advantage over us… It is a crazy league."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2020, 08:56:15 AM »
Scott Parker feeling 'positive' about Fulham vs Cardiff play-off despite missing out on automatic promotion

Fulham manager Scott Parker says the club will go into a Championship play-off against Cardiff City in a positive frame of mind despite missing out on automatic promotion.

The Cottagers needed to win at Wigan to have any chance of leapfrogging West Brom and Brentford into second but they were held to a 1-1 draw by the Latics, who will be relegated to League One pending an appeal.

After losing consecutive matches to Brentford and Leeds after the restart, Fulham go into a two-legged play-off semi-final against the Bluebirds unbeaten in seven matches – their longest sequence without defeat this season.

Asked how he was feeling, Parker said after the game: "Positive, a real positive because we were realistic and certainly the way we framed it was realistic.

"We knew what we had to do tonight and to bring the season to the last game was a massive positive for us. We took it to the wire, it's not happened for us, we knew it was well out of our hands tonight.

"We all understood it was likely we were going to the playoffs. We lost two games out of lockdown and since then we've been in very good form, that's seven unbeaten now. When you're close there's an element of 'can we do it' but you're relying on other teams to slip up.

"We move on. You'd expect me to say what I'm saying, but it is a big positive, that's where we are and we go in in good form with momentum with us. A good performance tonight, second half we had a real bit about us against a team needing to get a result. We move on from this now.

"It wasn't meant to be for us, we'll be focussed. We'll push in a tough game against Cardiff and we'll go from there."

There was a feeling of anticlimax at the final whistle after both sides desperately pushed for a winner in the final 15 minutes.

"We knew the task ahead of us, it was a team fighting for their lives, who had to win the game, had nothing to lose and come out of the blocks really firing," Parker added.

"The same could be said of us, that's how the game panned out, both teams knew they had to win the game. It became a bit of a basketball match at the end, very entertaining."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2020, 08:58:11 AM »
Neil Harris hails "huge achievement" as Cardiff secure playoff place

 Neil Harris hailed Cardiff's "huge achievement" of making the Sky Bet Championship play-offs and hopes momentum will carry his team forward after sending Hull down.

Junior Hoilett, Sean Morrison and Danny Ward were on target as Cardiff's comfortable 3-0 win saw them secure fifth place and drop Hull into the third tier of English football for the first time in 15 years.

"It's a huge achievement," said Cardiff boss Harris, who succeeded Neil Warnock in November when Cardiff were 14th in the table.

"Every bit of praise for the players and the staff has been earned.

"I came in as not a huge name and I had to prove myself, every week.

"The play-off (semi-finals) are about four halves of football and you need momentum."

Cardiff are the form team in the play-offs having finished with wins over Derby, Middlesbrough and Hull.

The Bluebirds will meet Fulham, the first leg in the Welsh capital on Monday, while bitter rivals Swansea will play Brentford.

"The message is clear," Harris said. "We get into the play-offs when everyone else is on holiday and that's to win. No other reason.

"There is a bit of pressure on us, bit there is huge pressure on Fulham. We will go and enjoy it.

"I have been through six, four as a player and two as manager and I love it. It's the best way to get promoted."

Nottingham Forest, fifth at kick-off, dropped out of the top-six after losing 4-1 at home to Stoke.

And Harris could not resist taking a dig at Forest, who recalled winger Albert Adomah from a loan spell at Cardiff at the end of June.

"Sabri Lamouchi (Forest manager) was manager of the year in the Championship four weeks ago and they finished seventh," Harris said.

"They stopped us taking Albert Adomah to take an advantage over us. It's a crazy league."

Hull will be playing in League One for the first time since 2005 after a miserable second half to the season.

The January departures of star players Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki prompted an incredible collapse which saw the Tigers win only once since New Year's Day and lose 16 times in 21 games.

"It's been disappointing for a few months now," manager Grant McCann said. "It's really frustrating but one thing we have now is a chance to regroup and bounce back.

"It's going to be difficult because League One is a tough league. Two to three weeks of hard work to rebuild start now."

McCann says he hopes to be in charge of Hull next season and is the best man for the job.

"I understand the fans' frustration and we haven't been good enough, but I have a burning desire to rebuild and go again next year," he said.

"I feel I know League One inside out and I'm the best man.

"People will look at us being relegated but bigger clubs than Hull have been in League One.

"I don't think it's anyone's fault. We haven't done what was asked of us since January."

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Re: Thursday Fulham Stuff - 23/07/20...
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2020, 08:59:25 AM »
“Boring, boring Cardiff” fail to put their supporters through emotional roller coaster!

On a night where the supporters of, I would guess, more than half of the teams in the Championship were put through the emotional wringer, it was all a bit boring at Cardiff City Stadium really as the home team made an unspectacular, but completely professional, job of seeing off a Hull City side that have, without doubt, been the poorest side in the division since the turn of the year.

City’s 3-0 triumph equalled their biggest winning margin of the campaign and rather like it was when they came out 3-0 winners over Queens Park Rangers nine months ago in what was definitely our weirdest game of 19/20, I find myself thinking we’ve played much better than that in the minutes straight after the final whistle.

What was different this time though is that City had a particular task in front of them tonight on which their whole season depended and the fact that, surely, everybody who had an opinion on the matter thought that they would manage it quite easily threatened to make it a potential recipe for disaster.

The fact that at no time would those pundits and experts brought in to discuss the various connotations that would affect this most capricious of divisions, where every one bar one of the twelve fixtures on the last day of the season had a promotion and/or relegation issue riding on it, have been able to even contemplate it all going wrong for Cardiff says it all really. Hull were ruthlessly dispatched to League One as we achieved our goal in a calm and methodical manner.

I mentioned earlier that it was all a bit boring. That’s a harsh judgement on one level, but, strangely, it’s also meant as a bit of a compliment. Try asking Nottingham Forest fans tonight how they would feel now if their team had “bored” them tonight in the manner Cardiff did with their supporters – I think they would gladly have taken that!

I’ll go through who finished where later, but now I want to give some praise to a group of players I’ve been pretty critical of for the past eleven and a half months and a manager who I’ve also given some stick to since he took over in November.

Back on 25 February, City went down to a limp 1-0 home defeat by that same Nottingham Forest team and when four days later they found themselves 2-0 down on their own ground after just twenty one minutes to Brentford, another team above them in the table, the notion that this was a top six side would have been laughed out of court.

The matches against Forest and Brentford were held up beforehand as the sort that just had to be won. No one could doubt that Neil Harris had made us a tougher side to beat, but we were still not winning anywhere near enough home matches and, frankly, we had a one dimensional way of playing which opposing teams were finding easier to deal with in 19/20 than they had done two seasons earlier.

And yet it was the old high balls into the box approach which turned around that Brentford match as two headers had us level by half time proving that while we clearly were in need of a more rounded way of playing, we did have something that good sides in this division found hard to deal with at times – the challenge, that Neil Harris had failed to meet up until then, was to come up with that something extra while retaining the qualities we already had.

A win at Barnsley in the last match before lockdown was achieved despite a truly dismal first half showing and offered a slither of promise of better things to come with a spell during the game where we were truly dominant, but, to be blunt, the two point gap to sixth place may as well have been twenty given how poorly and unimaginatively we had played through the first eighty per cent of the season.

When football began again, City got going with a 2-0 win over Leeds which just got to look more and more impressive as the weeks went by.

The reason why it wasn’t appreciated at first as much as it might have been were threefold I’d say – first, we always beat Leeds don’t we and second, there were still many who expected them to blow up under Bielsa just as they had done last season. Finally, it was very much a backs to the wall struggle as we gave up possession and territory to the visitors and hit them on the break with two very good finishes.

Leeds were beaten by the”old” Cardiff doing what they could do well better than they had done for most of the campaign, but the template of the season so far had said that we needed more than that.

For me, it was the the following match at Preston that had a “Hang on, what’s going on here?” feel to it because there was a control, poise and yes, a hint of style to our display.

Late goals were instrumental in winning at Preston and Bristol City and offered a clue that City might be that bit fitter than many of their divisional rivals, but I’d say that, more importantly, we were be a little more canny, sprightly and skilful than opponents thought we would be because they were expecting the old Warnockball style and not much else from Cardiff.

Two deserved defeats by an accomplished Blackburn team and a Fulham side finally beginning to play to something like their potential raised old doubts again. However, City were impressive in coming out on top in what had the feeling of a shoot out with Derby and the easy victories which followed against Middlesbrough and now Hull took it to nineteen points from the nine post lockdown matches with the Play Offs reached in fifth position with a comfortable looking three point cushion – that’s automatic promotion form and it would be churlish not to accept the manager and team have produced when it was most needed.

Turning to tonight’s match, I think one of the more relevant things about it was that I spent much of the time whinging to myself about our ball retention just as I have done throughout most of the season, but then it struck me that I wasn’t having a moan about our passing for the reasons I used to from August until March. Then, it would be all about our almost total inability to play the ball from point A to point B no matter what the distance was between them. No, my displeasure this time was about how we were not as sharp and accurate with our passing as we had been in the eight post lockdown games before tonight – I was being unhappy with our failure to match the standards we’d set for ourselves in our previous eight matches,

A couple of early opportunities to Robert Glatzel, the second one of which he probably should have scored from, rather told the story of what was to come in that, although Hull would sometimes play pretty well between the penalty areas, they were substandard in both of them.

Hull struggled every time we upped the attacking tempo and so there was always the feeling that, although the visitors were competitive in many areas, City would be able to up their game if they did produce a surprise or two.

Glatzel also troubled keeper George Long with a looping header which threatened to fly over him and into the far corner of the net, but City’s pressure paid off in the eighteenth minute when Junior Hoilett was left all alone to cut in from the left and fire in a shot from around twelve  yards which, at first, appeared to go through Long on his near post, but, in truth, Hoilett’s shot was a good one and the Hull keeper had no reason to chastise himself.

The goal did little to shake City out of what I would say was a let’s just do enough attitude, but they needed help from the officials when Malik Wilks went down in the penalty area under a challenge by Joe Bennett. It looked like a penalty on first viewing and was shown to be one on second and third viewings, but referee James Linnington and the linesman on the Ninian stand side of the ground saw nothing to convince them that a foul had been committed.

City’s response to their escape was to put together a lightning fast counter attack which ended up with Glatzel again coming close as midfielder Daniel Batty did excellently to block the striker’s shot at the expense of a corner.

Batty’s good work was all for nothing though as Sean Morrison nodded in Joe Ralls’ corner from about eight yards out. City’s skipper will seldom have scored an easier goal as he was completely unmarked and he barely had to jump as he placed his header beyond Long. Such a goal tends to produce lots of inquests in the defence of the team that has just conceded, but this time, it was easy to see who was responsible for the concession, it was striker Tom Eaves who completely lost his man and allowed Morrison to score so easily.

City were playing with some of that fluency which has come as such a pleasant surprise lately now and a lovely pass by Marlon Pack set up Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, but after neatly turning inside his marker, the winger, who went from inspirational at Middlesbrough to just plain frustrating here, put his shot straight at Long.

Perhaps understandably when you’re forty five minutes ter from the Play Offs against a team that hadn’t scored in five matches, City made a bit of a dozy start to the second half and both centrebacks had to made desperate last ditch challenges and Smithies produce the save of the game to deny the busy Wilks again.

Hull didn’t threaten much after that and it was only in the dying minutes that City upped their attacking game a bit to force a couple of free kicks in dangerous areas. The first of these came to nothing, but when Long fisted out Bennett’s twenty yard effort from the second one into the path of sub Danny Ward, he responded with an example of the calm and efficient finishing which marks him out as a real asset coming off the bench late in games by sidestepping a defender with his first touch and then dispatching the ball past a keeper who must have been wishing he had made a better job of dealing with the original effort with his second.

That was the end of the action really and the few minutes remaining minutes saw me considering the carnage taking place at other grounds as we were easing into the Play Offs.

The battle for the second automatic promotion spot boiled down to West Brom knowing that their one point lead over Brentford meant that they would be promoted if they beat a QPR side that appeared to be ideal opposition for such an occasion at the Hawthorns. A failure to win by the Baggies would leave Brentford only needing to overcome a Barnsley team that was surely bound for League One to secure second for themselves and they had a bonus of knowing that their superior goal difference meant that a draw would be enough for them in the event of West Brom losing and Fulham failing to get the three points at Wigan.

Fulham in fourth were lurking two points behind West Brom knowing a win by neighbours QPR and a failure to win by Brentford would see them take second spot if they could come out on top in their awkward visit to a Wigan side needing to win to gain sufficient points to ensure their proposed twelve point penalty for going into Administration did not relegate them.

In the event, in an outcome which it could be argued confirmed the widely held belief that it’s been a low quality Championship this season, none of the three contenders managed to win!

Fulham trailed for a long time to a Keiffer Moore goal at Wigan before recovering to take a point in a 1-1 draw which, seemingly, has relegated Wigan. That was a reasonable result for the London club, but set against West Brom’s 2-2 draw and Brentford’s 2-1 loss, even Fulham fans will be wondering about what might have been now.

Therefore, West Brom stumbled over the line in a match where they, first, trailed, then fought back to level and then led, only for their opponents to come back and leave a very anxious last half an hour for the Midland team and their supporters. Apart from when West Brom were losing, Brentford were never in a position where they were going up as they fell behind just before half time, eventually managed an equaliser before dropping the points late on courtesy of a goal which meant far more to their opponents than it did to them.

So, Wigan, despite some great results in the final third of the campaign, go down, Hull knowing they would almost certainly be relegated even if they had won at City, ended up bottom and, with Luton beating Blackburn, Middlesbrough winning at Sheffield Wednesday and other results meaning that Birmingham and Huddersfield were safe despite being beaten by Derby and Millwall respectively, it was Charlton, beaten 4-0 at Champions Leeds, who were relegated by Barnsley’s late winner.

Before leaving the situation at the bottom, I must record my sympathy for Wigan because, for me the Football League authorities are as much to blame for what happened there as their pointless and feeble fit and proper person test allowed that club to be taken over by someone who, allegedly, put them into Administration to help him win a bet that they would be relegated.

It just seems wrong that a club can be relegated in such circumstances and by leaving the whole thing up in the air by not making a definite decision yet as to when any penalty is to be applied, the authorities have created a situation whereby those Barnsley players who were celebrating wildly after a couple of remarkable wins in their last two games could still see themselves playing in League One depending on what is decided in an appeal tribunal or a Football League committee room.

The waters are further muddied by the ongoing investigation into the sale of Derby and Sheffield Wednesday’s grounds to companies associated with those clubs’ owners in a bid to avoid what I still call Financial Fair Play penalties. If found guilty, these two clubs could be hit with points penalties so stringent that even Hull and Charlton are clinging to the very slight hope that they could still be playing Championship football next season – it really is an absurd situation which reflects no credit on either some of the clubs involved and those who are supposed to be in charge of the competition.

If anything though, the drama at the bottom was trumped by what was happening with the other Play Off place up for grabs while City were calmly going about securing theirs.

Swansea knew that they needed to win at Reading and rely on either us or a Forest side that were being talked of as possible automatic promotion contenders only a fortnight or so ago getting beat. Although their goal difference was slightly worse than ours the jacks knew the combination of three points for them and none for us would naturally turn that around, but they also needed a five goal swing towards them in the event of Forest losing at home to a Stoke team with nothing to play for.

For more than half of both matches, it seemed like Forest had little to be concerned about, Yes, they were trailing 1-0 and Swansea had scored early on at Reading, but there was still that favourable goal difference for them. The dismissal of Reading’s leading scorer Yakou Meite just before half time threatened to make things interesting, but the home side then equalised almost immediately from the penalty spot and when Forest then levelled things up, everything appeared to be very straightforward in what was looking like becoming a fight for sixth place.

Suddenly though in the last third of both matches, the away team started scoring on a regular basis – 2-1 to Swansea and Stoke then became 3-1 and when Wayne Routledge headed a fourth for the jacks in injury time, it was they who found themselves in sixth place.

Forest desperately needed to score and their forward Nino Da Costa came up with that goal six minutes into added time, but the problem was the ball was put into his own net to make the score 4-1 in both matches! In truth, that final goal changed nothing, Swansea had achieved their five goal swing and also scored enough times to ensure their goals scored figure was comfortably higher than Forest’s in the event of the sides finishing level on points with the same goal difference.

Ironically, City’s unexpected fifth place finish means that they will now be facing a Fulham team who are probably the most in form of the four sides contesting the Play Offs – a Fulham team which, it has to be said, beat us comfortably by 2-0 at Craven Cottage less than a fortnight ago. After spending the last month or so hoping that Brentford would finish second because it would mean we wouldn’t have to face them in a Play Off Semi Final, their last two results have me thinking that maybe we would have been better off playing them now!

It’s Fulham at home next Monday followed by another visit to London three days later though and, to repeat what I said in the Feeback section on here this week, I feel much the same now as I did the last time we reached this stage eight years ago – for me, the achievement was getting to the Play Offs in 11/12, I had no expectation that we would win them at all and I think the same applies now.

Neil Harris took an aggressive line in his post match interview though as he claimed the pressure was all on Fulham when you consider the size of their budget and how much they had spent this season on assembling their team and he has a point there – he also managed to get in a dig at Forest about how they recalled Albert Adomah from his loan spell with us!

Apologies to Sky if I’ve got this wrong, but I watched most of their general post game discussion about how the night had gone in the Championship and the only reference I heard to Cardiff was when our former player Jobi McAnuff said we were a “dangerous” team who are in good form. I’ve under estimated the City squad and their manager for the majority of this season and I think that, generally speaking, football has done that as well. Neil Harris and his team won’t mind that at all. I’m not expecting much from us, but Jobi McAnuff is right about us being “dangerous” – especially if our opponents start to believe that all we’ll have to offer is stale Warnockball.