Booked and cooked; Fulham roast Hatters 7-0 before Cottage toasts Fulham


Luton Town came to London with high hopes. Their recent form had been excellent but Fulham were in both party and post-party mood. The Cottagers blitzed a shellshocked Town with a champions performance.

It’s difficult to do adequate justice to how good this Fulham show was. Passes went to feet. One-off flicks all landed at their intended destination. The finishing, so wan against Nottingham Forest, was perfect.

Tactically, there was genius.

Talisman goalscorer Aleksander Mitrovic played in a much deeper position and still scored twice. His individual performance was outstanding. He supplied flick on headers, incisive short passes and of course his customary top drawer finishing.

So overrun were the guests, that they picked up seven bookings as they mistimed tackles and ran out of any hope of halting the juggernaut. After the slaughter was over, the home side were presented with the Championship trophy in front of a jubilant crowd.

Icons did what icons do. Jean Michel Seri scored. Tom Cairney, their spiritual captain, scored too. All it needed was Johnny Haynes to make a cameo. Denis Odoi did.

Tim Ream probably deserved a goal and it was only latterly that many thoughts turned to how many of these men would not grace the first team at Craven Cottage or anywhere else again.

Marco Silva cannot afford to be sentimental next week as opponents Sheffield United are involved in a vital promotion play off struggle. He has an obligation to the game to take the fixture seriously.

Ironically, it is Luton who most need Fulham to replicate Tuesday night’s form. Both clubs now stand level on 72 points. Both will make the playoffs if Middlesbrough fail to win at Preston, unless Millwall zonk in a hatful at Bournemouth.

Luton looked as outclassed as any side should in a league fixture and it was indicative that Tim Robinson felt the need to caution Danny Hylton, Kal Naismith, Tom Lockyer, Dan Potts, Henri Lansbury, Robert Snodgrass and Admiral Muskwe.

Lansbury should have had a second for an ugly lunge and Potts was lucky that Robinson took no action for a light hand on the official’s shoulder after his caution.

Still Luton had up to nine probable starters out and will hope to assemble something closer to their first team against Reading. Goalkeeper Matt Ingram wi an emergency loan from Hull but was hardly at fault for any of the goals. He will between the sticks against Reading.

Jordan Clark only made the bench at Fulham but that augurs well for the final game but Gabe Oho and Glen Rea are out. There’s more hope for Elijah Adebayo and Sonny Bradley.

Their manager Nathan Jones told BBC Three Counties Radio:

“”I haven’t felt like that in my career before if I’m honest.

“We’ve got nine first-team injuries. What we have to do is make sure we dust ourselves off and make sure we’re ready to go at the weekend.

“It all boils down to one giant, mammoth, unbelievable game (against Reading) and we’d have all taken that at the beginning of the season.

“Let’s look forward to that, rather than dwell on a poor performance – they were good, but we weren’t aggressive, didn’t defend our box well and in the end felt a bit a sorry for ourselves.”

Silva has problems of his own. This side is nowhere near good enough to avoid a third successive drop. Despite this stellar performance, he has to convince the owners otherwise. He also has to make better signing decisions than his predecessor did. Silva will know many better players who have failed at Everton and Watford this season.

Agents will be circling the club’s transfer budget like vultures. Nearby Chelsea have to offload players as the number of loans allowed diminishes. Does he recall Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa out on loan at Napoli who hardly excelled in the Premier League last time?

Last night’s display should make Craven Cottage a more enticing location. All that will unfold over the summer months.

This moment belongs to Silva, the 43 goal Mitrovic, Cairney, Ream and the backroom staff.

For the fans there is a prospect of a derby with Brentford for the first time in the Premier League. There’s also a  chance to compete more equally with a financially less superior Chelsea in that other West London derby. Spurs, Arsenal, West Ham and Crystal Palace make up the sextet of short trips in a very London top tier.

And finally, the opening of that brand new Riverside Stand where many fans will watch football from for the first time, and even travel to the match by boat.

There is much indeed to look forward to at one of London’s oldest and most iconic stadiums.


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