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The Oppo: Fulham FC (Home)

Handbags previews the Cottagers' visit to the Mad Stad, Reading's last game of 2016.

Fulham v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Engels/Getty Images

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and what better way to serve it up than on a cold, wintery Friday evening in front of the home support? Less than a month ago the Royals put on a display that is amongst the worst ever at second tier level.

Make no mistake though, Fulham are one of the most accomplished attacking teams in the Championship and are capable of wiping the floor with any side on their day. They potentially present the toughest test we’ll have had so far at the Madejski this season.

Head to Head

Fulham possess the marginally better record over the years, although during the Madejski years the Cottagers have tended to have the better of proceedings with seven wins from 13.

Reading on the other hand have taken three points on just four occasions in that time. With just one win in the five meetings since the west Londoners were relegated from the Premier League, the Royals are well due a victory.

Played

RFC Wins

Draws

FFC Wins

RFC Goals Scored

FFC Goals Scored

Craven Cottage

20

5

5

10

25

36

Madejski Stadium

6

2

2

2

9

8

Elm Park

13

7

2

4

17

16

Reading Overall

19

9

4

6

26

24

Overall

39

14

9

16

51

60


Memorable match

In the corresponding article earlier in the month I indulged myself somewhat with a regaling of my first ever away match in March 1993. This time around I recall my memories of my first ever Reading defeat.

Saturday 15 February 1992, and Reading sat distinctly midtable with just nine wins from their 27 matches so far, the threat of a relegation battle staved off with enough quality over the season to be well clear of the trap door, but never near enough to the top six to ever threaten. Fulham arrived in town with a similar record, also distinctly midtable and so the hope was for a solid performance yielding three welcome points on a fair day at Elm Park.

Memories of the match are somewhat sketchy (I was only nine when played), but what I recall is the match being thoroughly uneventful until two quickfire goals midway through the second half from Fulham’s Jeff Eckhardt and Sean Farrell, both tucking tidy efforts past on-loan goalkeeper John Keeley in the Reading goal in front of the Town End.

Reading struggled to find any penetration to their play which was undoubtedly frustrating for the majority of the 4,838 in attendance, and indeed I distinctly recall the local press stating Fulham goalkeeper Jim Stannard was a mere spectator throughout as Mark McGhee’s men put in one of the worst performances under him.

Of course, the season was very much one of transition in a time when supporters displayed far greater patience, allowing McGhee and John Madejski the time to build, both being in their first full seasons in their respective positions at the club.

Two summers of progressive of rebuilding displayed what a good manager can do with time and adequate resources, seeing out the old guard such as Trevor Senior, Steve Richardson and Linden Jones, and bringing in quality replacements in the form of Dylan Kerr, Ray Ranson, Phil Parkinson and Jimmy Quinn to supplement the obvious qualities already possessed by Stuart Lovell, Michael Gilkes and Adrian Williams.

The new breed of supporter today could learn a thing or two from such qualities.

Lineups

Reading

John Keeley, Linden Jones, Steve Richardson, Keith McPherson, Adrian Williams, Floyd Streete, Scott Taylor, Danny Bailey, Mick Gooding, Trevor Senior, Craig Maskell.

Sub: Aaron Giametti.

Fulham

Jim Stannard, John Marshall, Martin Pike, Peter Scott, Jeff Eckhardt, Glen Thomas, Simon Morgan, Julian Hails, Sean Farrell, Gary Brazil, Mark Kelly.

No subs used.

Grudge Moment

It has to be said I’m getting a little tired of Fulham. Since relegation from the Premier League just over two seasons ago the Royals have played at Craven Cottage three times and lost on each occasion.

The 2-1 defeat in January 2015 was particularly galling as the performance put in by Reading was so dominant it wouldn’t have been out of place in a BDSM club, but it was ultimately rendered pointless thanks to a last minute header from Bryan Ruiz. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

Fact, Interesting or Otherwise

Michael Jackson – despite only ever stepping foot inside Craven Cottage once the legendary singer had a statue outside the Stevenage Road Stand at Craven Cottage, a bizarre tribute from Mohamed Al-Fayed who commissioned the 7.5 feet high monolith to place inside his Harrods store four miles away in Knightsbridge.

As it was, Al-Fayed sold Harrods to a new Qatari owner who decided the statue wasn’t for him, and with nowhere else to site it Al-Fayed decided to place it outside Fulham Football Club, making the club a laughing stock (and based on Al-Fayed’s comments after its unveiling it looks like I’m going to hell). Thankfully the dreadful piece only lasted two years outside the Cottage, Shahid Khan also deciding it wasn’t for him and the piece now sits, again somewhat bizarrely, in the National Football Museum in Manchester.