Players show Kit is right fit
AFTER an international break in which Kit Symons had to hear about his job being under threat, he could have done with the type of performance from his Fulham players to show he still has their backing.
And that was exactly what he got on an afternoon when Middlesbrough were frustrated and could easily have ended up defeated at the Riverside Stadium.
Fulham had their moments in an attacking sense – particularly a couple of late efforts from striker Ross McCormack – and it would not have been against the run of play had one of those flown in.
But in the end the Cottagers, by preventing Middlesbrough from claiming the victory to stay in the top two, had to settle for a point despite it hardly improving their mid-table position in the Championship.
Symons, though, was more than satisfied, saying: “I have been pleased with how they have performed since the start of this season.
“We would have liked more points on the board, this is a brilliant group of players and I believe in them.
“It is a new team that was put together in the summer. We had loads of ins and outs.
“Middlesbrough are a really good side but this has been assembled over a number of years. We are playing catch up and I am pleased with how we played because it certainly didn’t look like we were playing catch up.”
Middlesbrough were slick at times but never as fluent as they had been during their recent seven-match winning run.
Head coach Aitor Karanka cut a frustrated figure during and after the encounter after seeing his team struggle to seriously test Fulham goalkeeper Andy Lonergan and his replacement, for the last 13 minutes, Joe Lewis. But as well as admit he was not happy with the performance, he was more annoyed by Fulham’s approach.
Karanka said: “They came here not to play because they were wasting time from the first second and the referee permitted them to play that way.We couldn’t play in our style and couldn’t get that intensity that we needed.
“I had a word with the referee at half-time but he said he was happy with it and he would keep an eye on it. He didn’t do anything until the last minute when he booked the keeper for timewasting. It is very frustrating.”
But Symons chose not to get in to a public row, saying: “They had a grizzle and a grumble but I am sure if they were 1-0 up they wouldn’t have been rushing around too much.
“It wasn’t deliberate but before we came here we talked about managing the game better and you are not going to go rushing after balls if it is 0-0. The referee was happy enough until he got a bit stroppy towards the end.”
David Nugent was lively enough but he never looked like beating Lonergan and a failure to score meant Reading’s victory over Charlton lifted them in to second on goal difference.
Diego Fabbrini, Stewart Downing and George Friend all had decent attempts on goal but that was nowhere near enough for Karanka. He would have felt even worse had McCormack not been denied by Dimi Konstantopoulos or had the Scotland striker not wasted a great second chance in stoppage-time.
Karanka said: “I know how important it is to win at home and we now have three games away so I am disappointed.”
EYES WIDE SHUT: Carlos de Pena of Middlesbrough smashes a shot through Ryan Tunnicliffe