Fulham were today’s visitors to the fortress CBS in the Championship’s early kick off - a big test for the Sky Blues against a recently relegated side full of quality, made an even bigger test after our woeful night in Luton on Wednesday. The day started for me at Rossi’s cafe on Binley Road for a big breakfast and a cup of tea (excellent as usual, would highly recommend!) with my mates Corey, Callum and Kai.
We then caught the bus up to the CBS and just about made it into the ground ahead of kick off (traffic slowed us down, and we then had to get a jog on in the rain to make it in time!). It was a wet and windy day and by the time we sat down behind the goal we were soaked and freezing, but I felt confident that we’d be in for a good game with two good footballing sides on show. I could tell that Fulham had some real quality in their side straight away, though we started quite well and had a couple of chances in the early stages of the game which showed that we were up for it.
Arguably our best chance of the half came through a ball over the top of the Fulham defence which Callum O’Hare got on the end of - he lofted the ball into the box however it dropped to centre half Kyle McFadzean, who tried his best but couldn’t pick out a corner after bringing the ball down and his shot was blocked and cleared. Not the man you want in that position really!
Fulham eventually took the lead through their first chance of the game - a corner floated into the box which was headed into his own net by McFadzean. Disappointing, as we didn’t deserve to be behind at all. Following the goal Fulham grew into the game a little more and we allowed them more time to play, however we still tested them when we got forward - Ian Maatsen had a lot of joy down the left hand side, but just couldn’t pick out anyone in Sky Blue with his balls across the box.
Fulham also began time-wasting with their goal kicks once they had the lead, an unusual tactic in the first half! It helped them maintain the lead until half time though, and while we had been very good in the first half I felt there was still room for improvement. We needed to tighten up the midfield a little - Ben Sheaf had looked a little sloppy however Liam Kelly, back in the side after injury problems, had looked solid. There was every chance that we could get something from the game though - if we’ve learned anything from watching the City at home this season, it’s that the game is far from over at half time!
We started the second half brilliantly - we looked sharp and we put pressure on Fulham immediately, and sure enough we were able to equalise within 3 or 4 minutes of the restart! Fulham attempted to play out from the back however got in a bit of a mix up, and Callum O’Hare was able to steal the ball on the edge of the area - he squared it to Viktor Gyokeres for a tap in, and at 1-1 it was game on then!
It only took a couple of minutes for us to take the lead after that. More pressure on Fulham’s defence, and Matty Godden was fouled inside the area - from my angle it looked a clear penalty, although having seen the replays it looked a little soft but we’ll take it! Godden duly dispatched the penalty, and we were fully in control of the game now.
Godden was on hand a few minutes later to clear one off the line from a Fulham corner, but Fulham didn’t really cause us any problems besides this once we had the lead. Before long, it was 3-1 to the Sky Blues after a lovely strike from left wing back Ian Maatsen - he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the Fulham box, and drilled his shot past the keeper into the far corner! He has that sort of finish in the locker and it was great to see him get a goal - I thought he also looked a lot better today than he has done in recent games which is very encouraging.
Viktor Gyokeres completed the rout with around 20 minutes to play, squeezing in a finish after a wonderful ball in from Godden out on the right. It capped a fantastic second half performance from us, and I felt we really outclassed Fulham in every department. Gyokeres almost scored a hattrick with his next chance, but Fulham keeper Paulo Gazzaniga was able to pull off a decent save to tip the effort round the post for a corner.
We didn’t really put a foot wrong at all in the second half and it was wonderful to watch us bounce back from midweek in such emphatic fashion. Liam Kelly was excellent all game, and it was great to see him back in the middle of the park with the Captain’s armband on. Ben Sheaf alongside him also improved in the second half, Matty Godden worked hard all game and Gyokeres and O’Hare were outstanding as usual. The win leaves us 3rd in the table going into the international break - what a feeling!
6 wins out of 6 at home - if you come to Coventry, you’re leaving with nothing!