Our roving match reporter Stephan Roux was back in action yesterday as he dusted off his notepad and headed to Fulham to cast an eye over proceedings at Craven Cottage. Read on to find out his views on the game and see what he thought of some of Town's stand-out performers.
After the latch was firmly closed on the transfer window it was time to rejoice in the news that we had retained not only the services of Karlan Grant but those of Steve Mounie as well. On top of that, we had waved farewell to Kongolo, Diakhaby, Hadergjonaj and Mbenza.
Whilst the loss of Aaron Mooy hurt, my feelings for his departure were somewhat softened by our excellent overall business which was topped off with the return of Jonas Lossl and the loan signing of Benfica winger Chris Willock.
With all that in mind I was buzzing about taking the trip down to Putney Bridge for an away day at Fulham that would entail a nice stroll through the park, a couple (or more) quality ales and a chance to glimpse an exciting Huddersfield Town squad for the first time in eons.
With one side of Craven Cottage now exposed to the elements for redevelopment and the benches resembling a scaffold bus shelter it was always going to be a chilly affair for us fans. A quick rendition of Smile Awhile raised the temperature somewhat before kick-off.
Ten minutes in however and we were all feeling the cold in the away end as Town found themselves a goal down. Twenty minutes on from then the temperature was raised to boiling point in the away end as we had watched Fulham extend their lead to three goals.
The hosts picked on our weakness at right back, making Juninho Bacuna look every part the makeshift full-back that he is. I would be lying if I said my mind didn’t jump back to our last Championship clash with Fulham at Craven Cottage – the comprehensive 5-0 loss in our promotion campaign.
(Highlights of Town's 3-2 loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage.)
Fortunately the players on the pitch seemed not to share in the pessimism of the fans as they reacted to Fulham’s third with real fight, grit and determination. The revival was sparked by a marauding Bacuna who unleashed the excellent Emile Smith Rowe, who scored his first goal for the club with a little help from Fulham’s Dennis Odoi.
Less than five minutes later Smith Rowe turned provider, finding Steve Mounie at the back post with a pinpoint cross that, despite his best efforts, Mounie simply could not miss.
The half-time whistle seemed to come too quickly with Town well on top and in search of an unlikely equaliser. Unfortunately the logistical arrangements at Craven Cottage made anything other than a half-time piss impossible – no pie reviews today I’m afraid.
Town started the second half much as they had finished the first, having the bulk of the play and the chances. Sadly what we were lacking in that second period was the ability to find a way past the impressive Fulham ‘keeper.
Despite not being able to see their team draw level, there was a certain buzz about the fans and a passionate enthusiasm at full-time that has felt sorely missing in recent months. The team had performed well and played some exciting and clever football at points.
Town were good value for a point, which is impressive considering our catastrophic start to the game and Fulham’s league position. We may have left Craven Cottage pointless, but there is cause for optimism as the travelling fans undoubtedly witnessed the first green shoots of recovery, which hopefully signal the beginning of an exciting new era.
How Did They Do? The Players That Stood Out
Juninho Bacuna – One of the biggest problems facing the Cowley brothers is the conundrum of where to play Juninho Bacuna. He is undoubtedly a player of quality and talent, but yesterday’s game proved at least to me, that he is no right back.
His ability on the ball was crucial to Town’s mini-revival. Finding a role for him in the team where he is free to add a creative force will be vital for the future success of this team.
Emile Smith Rowe – The Arsenal youngster looks every bit the player that we were promised. Already he is bringing this team to life, playing beautifully with Grant and Mounie and providing link up play that we have been missing for months, if not years.
He also handed over his matchday shirt to a kid in the crowd (who was probably not much younger than himself) to show that he is not only a good player, but a nice kid too.
Harry Toffolo – The former Lincoln left-back looks as solid a signing as we have made in recent years. From his performances in blue and white thus far, he looks like he has been playing at this level for a number of seasons already.
Richard Stearman – One of the steadiest performers in the team over recent weeks, despite his flat-footedness for one of Fulham’s three goals. I do feel somewhat sorry for Stankovic who cut quite a solitary figure throughout the game, but unfortunately for him, Stearman is just a better player.
That’s it from me today as I have to go back to daydreaming about Emile Smith Rowe. Until the next time, UTT!