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Davis returns to the cottage empty handed.


John
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A good attendance, a good win - bring on Chelsea!

This was a very important 3 points that puts us in mid-table and leaves Manchester United needing to win today to retain their one point lead over us (although we do have a game in hand)!

I thought we did well to comeback from a goal down again after Dempsey had slotted home after being left unmarked in the area by ball watching defenders. Fulham were less effective as the game wore and we created enough opportunities to have won at a canter, which is why a lot of us still think we need a fifth striker. Bouma’s injury brought about the substitution that gave us our winner, but injuries also expose the lack of depth in our squad, as does the absence of a right back and lets hope these and other things can be rectified in the coming week.

Nice to see Martin being so involved as to have to spend the second half in the stands. Clearly Bennett played 2 minutes less than he should at the end of the first half (injuries both inside the 45 minutes and in injury time count by the way ref), he should also have played advantage rather than blew his whistle in his haste to get Baird off the pitch and that hasty decision might well have cost us the win. Not a good game for the ref overall then and any repercussions from yesterday should be his to face other than Martin’s.

My player ratings from a game after which we had climbed into the top half of the league are:

Scott Carson - 6 – Pulled off a great stop on 86 minutes getting down on his line to stop a goal bound header that would have given Fulham a result that they did not deserve. Not much else to do other than on 5 minutes when he was left with little chance by his defenders.

Craig Gardner – 6 – Doing as well as can be expected playing out of position, Craig must be hoping that signing comes next week so he can return to boost our midfield options.

Olof Mellberg – 6 – Not at his best today.

Martin Laursen – 7 – Won everything in the air as we have come to expect but distribution was occasionally less effective.

Wilfred Bouma – 6 – Can do better but he was solid enough.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Put a good opportunity wide on 35 minutes when put under pressure by a defender. Not at his best today needs to be more involved.

Gareth Barry – 7 – More prominent in the second half and some immaculate passes from distance.

Stiliyan Petrov – 5 – Substituted at half time after a half in which he had failed to make any impression again. The time has come for him to show us what he showed in the early games of last season on a consistent basis or was that a flash in the pan and what we have had since is what we should now expect?

Nigel Reo-Coker – 7 – Bossed the midfield and demanded more from his team mates, looks a great signing.

Ashley Young – 8 – MOTM – A constant threat to Fulham from wide positions. Ran at defenders all day and they had no answer to him. Capped a fine display with his equaliser on 50 minutes cutting inside and hitting the ball past Keller into the far corner of the net.

John Carew – 7 – Unlucky to see a header hit the woodwork on the stroke of half time but should have done better on 25 minutes when the ball was taken from his feet when he was about to pull the trigger after having been put clear and then 7 minutes later when he hit a weak shot at the keeper, seemed short of pace at times today.

Substitutes:

Luke Moore - 7 - Replaced Petrov for the second half and played like he had a point to prove to the manager. Keller pulled off a great finger tip save to deny him on 58 minutes and hit a good shot after a great turn on 46 minutes that went just wide.

Marlon Harewood – 6 – Replaced Carew on 78 minutes to offer strength up front but had limited opportunity in the time available to stake a claim for a starting role.

Shaun Maloney – 7 - Replaced the injured Bouma on 83 minutes, if it had been a tactical rather than an injury substitution it would have been hailed as a master stroke because in the first minute of injury time he had the cool head to slot the ball past their keeper to give us a much needed and deserved victory.

Up the Villa! John Lewis

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