It’s been a long and bumpy journey. At various points on it we doubted whether we would get to the end of it, not least last Friday when we lost the first leg and the talk was ceaseless of Fulham’s play-off jinx.
However we are going to Wembley for the first time in 43 years for one of the big games in football. I felt confident that Derby’s one goal lead would never be sufficient. Indeed it would help Fulham who have so often been vulnerable in the first 30 minutes. If it was Derby’s tactic to survive for 90 minutes then it would not succeed.
The Cottage was rocking, I have never it so loud and raucous since the Europa Cup run in 2010. This can carry a danger as round me fans were exhorting Fulham to “Get it forward” when our game is based on possession to wear the opposition down. We had some chances in the first half, the best of which – a header from Mitrovic – was brilliantly saved by Derby keeper Scott Carson. At half time I said to our group that we would score the winner from an unlikely source, to which one suggested defender Dennis Odoi who duly obliged with a fine glancing header from a corner after Ryan Sessegnon hit the first shortly into the second half. We had to endure 6 horrible minutes of extra time. Fulham were no longer controlling the game by then as Derby hoisted the ball deep.
I had Abou Kamara, an unpolished diamond, as my man of the match. He is a big unit with a physique like Lukaku and is not blessed with the most sophisticated of soccer brains but his sheer raw pace and power troubled Derby on the right flank.
This has been a problem position but coach Slavisa Jokatovic was as ever brave in introducing him for such a key game. Tim Ream was as ever imperious at the heart of the Fulham defence whilst Kevin MacDonald had a huge game retaining possession and composure when all about him was getting over-excited.