Fulham fall short of automatic promotion as Birmingham win to beat the drop

Birmingham 3-1 Fulham: Goals from Lukas Jutkiewicz, Harlee Dean and Che Adams saved the Blues from the trapdoor in dramatic fashion

Matt Murphy
St Andrew's
Sunday 06 May 2018 14:42
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Fulham failed to capitalise on Cardiff's draw meaning they miss out on automatic promotion
Fulham failed to capitalise on Cardiff's draw meaning they miss out on automatic promotion

Fulham will have to battle through the play-offs for a place in the Premier League, after falling short on the last day of the season in a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City.

The Blues subsequently avoided relegation, as they romped to a dominant win, with goals coming from Lukas Jutkiewicz, Harlee Dean and Che Adams.

Cardiff drawing at home to Reading meant Fulham needed to better their result to get automatic promotion. But the Whites’ were unable to keep their 23-game unbeaten run going, allowing the Welsh side to clinch the desired second place.

St Andrew's was in full voice, as Birmingham started to get control of the game early on. Fulham were struggling to muscle their way through a firm Blues back line, and the hosts were looking to take advantage on the counter.

Jutkiewicz opened the scoring

When Wes Harding found himself in space on the right-hand side 20 minutes in, his low ball across the box needed just a tap in, and Jutkiewicz was there to clatter it home to put Birmingham in front. The 29-year-old then should’ve doubled their lead when he was found unmarked twice at the back post – but touched it just wide on both occasions.

The hosts continued to quell the attacking threat of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ryan Sessegnon with ease – as Fulham flopped in the bank holiday heat.

It was familiar territory for the visitors, who in their last five games have let their opponents in, before somehow making a comeback – but it wasn’t to be today. They were offering nothing in response, and Birmingham were taking full advantage of the momentum.

A scramble around the Fulham box and some poor marking left the Blues centre-back Harlee Dean free to then head home for the second.

Dean doubled their lead

In similar fashion to their games of late, the fighting was done in the second half, as Birmingham began to sit back and soak up the pressure. They continued to do just that, and as the clock ran down Fulham were bereft of chances.

The Whites managed to finally find some momentum in the final 15 minutes, as Tom Cairney headed home from close range, and Mitrovic forcing a fine save from Stockdale. But it was just to be a consolation, as the damage had already been done.

Adding to that damage, substitute Che Adams was given the freedom to control in the Fulham box in the final minutes. He tucked it away easily with his right foot, to the cheers of the home crowd. Although they'd had one eye on the other results, they knew now they were safe.

An announcement at St Andrew’s warned fans to stay in their seats at full-time – which was met with chants of “we’ll do what we want”. And they did, as the fans forced their way on to the field, bare chestedand blue flares in hand.

Although some of the travelling fans were adamant that promotion today would be a bonus, Slavisa Jokanovic’s side will be bitterly disappointed to miss out. Instead they’ll now face Derby in the play-offs.

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