In a scrappy match not unlike the 1-0 victory over Millwall, Fulham at least achieved 3 points, our third home win and a second consecutive clean sheet. Birmingham were a very poor side with nil firepower. Our pleasing but sometimes over-intricate passing game resulted in an early goal when Kebano got to the line and pulled the ball back for a lovely flick at the near post by Ojo. It was the type of goal we scored last season for fun with Aluko reaching the line. After that the quality deteriorated but the key point was a penalty award in the second half to the away side. There was what is called ‘Keystone Cops defending’ with the ball ballooning around the Fulham penalty area like some beach volleyball game and ended up with Kevin McDonald miscuing and scything down Emilio Nsue. Boga’s penalty was amongst the worst I have ever seen taken: he hit the ball into middle of the Putney End after new keeper Bettinelli had already committed himself. After that, spurred on by their long suffering 4000 fans one of whom threw a flare, Birmingham pressed to little avail.
Although Johnasen had lively game and Ojo scored the only goal, my man of the match was an ex-Cottager David Stockdale who pulled off a series of crucial shot stopping saves. One of the many errors of the Magath era (when I first typed this the predictive text wrote it as ‘maggot’) was to discard Stockdale (the predictive text printed him out as Stockade). We must have had at least 4 keepers since then, not one of them as good. Ask Ivan at Brighton where Stockdale’s keeping was such a contributing feature of their promotion success.