Play­ers show Kit is right fit

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Pe­ter Ford

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

EYES WIDE SHUT: Car­los de Pena of Mid­dles­brough smashes a shot through Ryan Tun­ni­cliffe

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