Sy­mons start­ing to look ahead

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Scott Hunt

FUL­HAM manager Kit Sy­mons in­sists he can now have half an eye on next sea­son af­ter his side took a huge step to­wards sur­vival with victory over al­ready-rel­e­gated Black­pool at Bloom­field Road.

Matt Smith’s eighth-minute header was enough to se­cure the win which puts Ful­ham nine points clear of Mill­wall, who have three games left, but the Cot­tagers have a su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence.

Black­pool are now with­out a win in their last 16 games and still re­quire one point to equal the low­est tally ever posted since the sec­ond tier be­came 24 teams in 1988.

For Ful­ham it was a first win in ten and Sy­mons ac­knowl­edged how cru­cial the three points were, ir­re­spec­tive of the per­for­mance.

“Scrappy, hor­ri­ble, ugly game but it was im­per­a­tive we came and got a win and we man­aged to do that,” Sy­mons said.

“There were a cou­ple of times where we could have scored an­other one to­wards the end but I’ll just take the three points what­ever way they come at this stage.

“It’s been tough lately to say the least. It’s not been the most en­joy­able.We did ride our luck a bit and we’ve not had an aw­ful lot of luck this year to be hon­est so maybe it’s a lit­tle bit over­due.

“Math­e­mat­i­cally we need one more point but this was a mas­sive game and re­sult for us.

“I now have half an eye on next sea­son but as soon as it’s math­e­mat­i­cally done the bet­ter for me.”

The hosts came close af­ter just four min­utes when Gary Ma­dine slipped Henry Cameron clean through but the mid­fielder’s ef­fort from 18 yards came back off the post.

Less than a minute later, Cameron was in be­hind the Ful­ham de­fence again but was de­nied from sim­i­lar range by the fin­ger­tips of Mar­cus Bet­tinelli.

But, in the man­ner typ­i­cal of Black­pool’s sea­son, it was Ful­ham who opened the scor- ing in the eighth minute when Sean Ka­vanagh’s left-wing cross was nod­ded into the bot­tom left­hand cor­ner by Smith.

Ful­ham con­tin­ued to pres­surise the leaki­est de­fence in the Foot­ball League and Smith was al­most on tar­get again in the 17th minute, but put his header wide when six yards out from a cor­ner.

Nathan Delfouneso came within inches of equal­is­ing af­ter 76 min­utes when he beat Bet­tinelli to the ball, but his ef­fort across goal was hooked off the line by Ash­ley Richards. And Gary Ma­dine al­most equalised in added time but his dip­ping strike was su­perbly tipped around the post by Bet­tinelli.

And Black­pool boss Lee Clark was frus­trated with the re­sult, feel­ing his team de­served bet­ter.

“I’m frus­trated for the play­ers be­cause we didn’t get what we de­served,” Clark said.

“I think we’ve dom­i­nated the game from start to fin­ish. They scored with their first attack. I don’t think they’ve had many other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We might have even felt harshly done by had we only taken a point. It’s the story of our sea­son re­ally.

“There are lots of pos­i­tives.The in­di­vid­ual per­for­mances of lots of play­ers we’ve had in the last four or five home games has been of a high stan­dard but we’ve got to get wins on the board.

“A lot of the play­ers are play­ing for their fu­tures.We will con­tinue to talk all the time and the play­ers will know the de­ci­sions on them af­ter the fi­nal game.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age

TIMELY FIN­ISH: Ful­ham’s Matt Smith cel­e­brates scor­ing the only goal

Dunne DUEL: David Perkins and Charles

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