Pantsil (og) 52
Well perhaps not the game we expected after Saturday but nonetheless one can’t complain about the result.
There was none of the free flowing forward moves we saw then and no doubt deep down everyone would have wanted more evidence of improvement than we saw. Let’s face it Fulham were unlucky however, sometimes you need to dig in and grind out a result. Last night we did just that and, when perhaps earlier in the season we would have succumbed and dropped points, we held firm.
Kenny made just one change from the Wolves game and it was no surprise, bringing back Gerrard from suspension for the injured Lucas. We almost got off to a good start with Meireles feeding Torres who ran through and scored however, the linesman flagged for offside when perhaps he shouldn’t have. Typical man!
Then it was Meireles’ turn to go close steering Kelly’s cross towards the bottom corner before Stockdale, in the Fulham goal, got a hand to it. Stockdale was at it again soon after but had an easier time of it saving Gerrard’s and then Johnson’s long range drives.
Having weathered the early red storm Fulham settled well managed to contain us until the break. They even had the odd adventure up front. Dempsey’s shot forced Reina to dive low at his right hand post and push the ball away and then Dembele, after good work and a cut back from Johnson, fired straight at Reina when he should have scored.
At the half time break I don’t think Kenny would have asked for too much more other than to keep pressing the Fulham goal. However, despite this the breakthrough came from a situation which was entirely of Fulham’s own making. Torres seized on a Kuyt interception and, from just inside the area despatched a shot that was deflected on to the post by Hangeland. Danger over perhaps but no Pantsil phaffed about, indulged in a stop of gentleman’s excuse me with Stockdale, panicked a bit and then sliced the ball not his own net when a clearer head would have surely made things safe? Cue bemused, embarrassed but happy faces from the Reds players
Fulham responded via Dempsey and then a Murphy free kick and towards the end things became even more desperate for us with Meireles “shinning” off the line from Hangeland and then Dembele causing us to scramble away. You got the feeling that we would need a second goal to settle us and the match, however, we for once luck was on our side and we saw it out giving the back four two clean sheets in a row. They’ve not the best recently but they’ve been unchanged for a few games now which presumably will help them forge some understanding and hopefully build some confidence and snuff out the near misses we saw from the opposition at the end of the game.
So seventh in the league which, despite a bit of luck and scrappy goal, is just reward for the improvements we’ve seen recently. However, this is not a position we are used to and I’m sure the side, despite it’s improvement, still hasn’t the attained the level Kenny is used to but hell, after some of the games we’ve seen this season, we’ll take this for now and be grateful?
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Agger, Kelly, Skrtel, Meireles, Gerrard, Maxi, Poulsen (Aurelio 80), Torres, Kuyt (Shelvey 66), Substitutes: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Wilson, Cole, Shelvey, Pacheco, Ngog
Fulham: Stockdale, Pantsil, Hangeland, Baird, Hughes, Sidwell, Murphy, Duff (Gera 63), Dempsey, Johnson, Dembele Substitutes: Etheridge, Kelly, Salcido, Gera, Greening, Davies, Kamara