Match Report: Swansea's Danny Graham comes in from margins to force Martin Jol into desperate measures

Fulham 1 Swansea City 2

Craven Cottage

Martin Jol played the final seven minutes with Brede Hangeland up front. It smelt like a desperate move and that is precisely what it was.

Fulham threw everything they had at Swansea but could not snatch a draw.  It said everything of Fulham’s position that Jol would go against his refined principles. He had started with Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz, two delightful, subtle players, in partnership. Coming into this match, though, Fulham had won just one of their last 11 league games. And with Swansea 2-1 up with 84 minutes gone, Jol brought Philippe Senderos on for Kerim Frei. The captain was unleashed to lumber forward.

It did not work. Hangeland managed one flick-on to no-one and one scuffed cross. Berbatov, uncharacteristically imperfect all afternoon, headed the best late chance over the bar from Ruiz’s free-kick. Fulham could not find an equaliser, and are just three points ahead of Wigan and Aston Villa.

They had pushed throughout the second half to make up for the two defensive errors which Swansea had exploited to go 2-0 ahead. But the hosts lacked confidence and fluency in attack. The goal they did score, through an inadvertent Sascha Riether, was itself rather ugly.

Jol insisted his team played well. “I don’t think if you play in the way we played today that you will have these sorts of disappointing results,” he said. “We made it difficult for them, tactically it was probably our best game over the last couple of months.”

None of the football was of high quality. Fulham made six changes and Swansea seven, as they coped with the third leg of the four-game festive blow-out. Those 13 changes, as well as the disruptive wind and rain coming from the Thames, prevented the game some had hoped for. Neither team found their preferred passing rhythm. The first half had a slow tempo, too many errors and Danny Graham’s volley, which put Swansea ahead, was the only moment of note.

Fulham’s defence never looked settled and Graham soon stole in and forced a save from David Stockdale, making his first Premier League start of the season. Minutes later, Graham scored his first Premier League goal since August. Nathan Dyer shot from the edge of the box, Stockdale saved, no Fulham defender attacked the rebound and Graham acrobatically volleyed the ball in.

Graham has been a marginal figure under Michael Laudrup. This was his second League goal of the season and Laudrup admitted last season’s star might leave next month. “Obviously Michu is our top scorer, everybody accepts that. Soon the market opens, there is time to talk to everybody. Let’s see what the players think.”

Fulham made some half chances at the end of the first half and start of the second, particularly through Ruiz, but were punished seven minutes after the restart when Stockdale hammered a clearance into Hangeland. The ball flew out to Pablo Hernandez, who calmly passed to Jonathan De Guzman, who finished into the far bottom corner. Jol said it was “almost a Christmas gift”.

Fulham were in a mess of their own making and swiftly tried to do something about it. Gerhard Tremmel saved from Ruiz’s volley before the hosts pulled one back. Frei crossed from the right, Berbatov headed onto the bar, went for the follow-up volley which found its way in via first Ruiz and then Reither, stood on the line.

There were still 34 minutes left. Tremmel and Stockdale both had a few saves to make but Fulham did not look like scoring, even before Jol’s failed experiment.

Variety is not the problem, it just has to be plausible. “You can’t always win playing good football,” said Laudrup. “Sometimes you have to accept to do it other ways. Sometimes you have to use Plan B or Plan C if it is not working. Or you might as well go home.”

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs; Karagounis, Sidwell; Dejagah (Rodallega, 76), Ruiz, Frei (Senderos, 84); Berbatov.

Swansea (4-2-3-1): Tremmel; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Tiendalli; De Guzman, Aguestien (Britton, 82); Dyer, Routledge (Ki, 45), Hernandez (Davies, 66); Graham.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Man of the match: Williams (Swansea).

Match rating: 5/10

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn