Pressure on Clem as run rolls on
PAUL Clement is nervous about Derby’s promotion chances after their winless run extended to seven matches at Craven Cottage.
A own goal on debut from Marcus Olsson had put the home side in the lead before a brilliant Craig Bryson volley levelled things just before the break.
A draw did little for either side with Fulham four points above the relegation zone and Derby without a league win since Boxing Day.
Clement admits to feeling the pressure, but remains confident his side are still in the chase.
“There’s not one game where I’ve stood on the side relaxed,” the head coach said. “There’s seven or eight teams clustered at the top, the pressure’s on now.
“But during this run, we’re in fifth place, five points off top.
“We have to believe that we can go on a run. It’s still tight, that’s one positive we can take from this. If the performances and results had been better then maybe this would have been seen as a valuable point. But it’s not what we wanted.
“You could see the lack of confidence and fragility from both teams in spells.
“We started brightly, their goal came against the run of play. It was a good ball, but we’d have hoped to have got that away. Ours was a fantastic goal. It could have gone either way.”
The visitors started positively and went close when a Johnny Russell free-kick was headed against the bar by Richard Keogh.
Tom Cairney, on the right for Fulham, then looped over a cross, but Lasse Vigen Christensen’s header was deflected over. Then the opening goal came when Scott Carson played his Derby midfield into trouble with a poor throw out.
Luke Garbutt was played in and his cross struck Chris Baird and cannoned off the flat-footed Olsson, who joined from Blackburn last month, and went in.
Fulham, without a clean sheet in 18, grew in confidence and began playing the best football seen under Slavisa Jokanovic.
But on the stroke of half-time, Chris Martin hooked in a ball from the right and Bryson volleyed past Andy Lonergan.
A disappointing Moussa Dembele went close, but headed wide from a corner when well-positioned. Ross McCormack was denied by Carson and also fired into the side-netting.
Russell was then sent through, but the winger was excellently denied by Lonergan.
Cyrus Christie went on a winding run past several Fulham players before his fierce shot was turned over.
Cairney shot just wide in injury time to leave both clubs looking for their first win of 2016.
The Cottagers have not beaten a team in the top half in 16 attempts, but Jokanovic is not worried.
“We will keep going and I will find my first victory next week against QPR,” he said.“The club, the staff, the fans, the players are trying to help me and have helped me from the start.”
On forward McCormack, who was linked with a move away, the Serbian said: “Ross is our key player, all the players and fans believe he can do an important job for us. He is working very hard and happy.
“I am not happy because we did not win.
“We tried to play a different way, but in the second half we tried to be more brave.We improved.
“As a coach, the only happy ending is winning the game and we didn’t win.”
TROUBLE: Derby’s Chris Martin puts pressure on Fulham defender Dan Burn
Richards 7 Burn 6 Amorebieta 8 Garbutt
O’Hara 7 Christensen 7
Carson 5 SUBSTITUTES FULHAM Kacaniklic 45, 7 (Ince); Smith 75, 5 (
Dembele); Parker 85, N/A (Christensen).
Not used: Lewis,
Fredericks, Ream, Labyad DERBY: Butterfield 66, 5 (Baird); Johnson 72,
5 (Bryson); Blackman 76, 6 (Weimann).
Not used: Grant, Bent, Ince,