Loa­nee Ince makes his point...

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Wragg

FOR­MER Chelsea kid Rohan Ince’s se­cond league goal of his ca­reer wasn’t enough to stop wor­ried Ful­ham drop­ping a place closer to dan­ger.

Ince, on loan from Brighton, put Ful­ham ahead on 38 min­utes, his first league goal for 14 months, but still the Whites dropped to only a point ahead of third-bot­tom MK Dons.

Ince, a cousin of for­mer Eng­land star Paul, did put a dent into Birm­ing­ham’s pro­mo­tion hopes though be­cause they could only fight back with an equaliser made by im­pres­sive winger David Cot­ter­ill for cap­tain Michael Mor­ri­son.

Ful­ham have not won for six games and have taken only three points in that time, a des­per­ate slump that boss Slav­isa Jokanovic ad­mits is wor­ry­ing him.

“In front of us is a very im­por­tant pe­riod,” he said.

“We need to for­get what has hap­pened in the past and fight for ev­ery point now un­til the last se­cond of the sea­son.

“I will need ev­ery player for this.We need to be all to­gether for the fight ahead of us. It is my job to check where we are in the ta­ble, but in fact it doesn’t mat­ter.

“What mat­ters it what we do from now on.”

Five games with­out a win had left Ful­ham ner­vous and the grow­ing ten­sion wasn’t helped by an en­forced last-minute change as Dan Burn came in to re­place Fer­nando Amore­bi­eta, who in­jured his an­kle in the warm-up.

With Ful­ham’s de­fence sus­pect, Birm­ing­ham were keen to give it an early ex­am­i­na­tion, but they got nowhere early on and it was the vis­i­tors who threat­ened.

Emerson Hyn­d­man had a pow­er­ful drive blocked by Mor­ri­son and by the 23rd minute they should have been ahead.

Scott Parker took a mazy path through Birm­ing­ham’s de­fence and waited what seemed an age be­fore chip­ping the ball over Blues keeper To­masz Kuszczak, only to see Jonathan Grounds head clear on the goal line.

Birm­ing­ham man­aged noth­ing any­where near as ex­cit­ing and by the 38th minute they had paid for it.

Ross McCor­mack’s cross­field pass found Tom Cair­ney and he set-up Ince for a pow­er­ful drive that Kuszczak al­lowed to squirm free and over the line.

Three min­utes into first half added time though the Blues nearly got a re­ply when Cot­ter­ill’s free-kick was met by Jonathan Spec­tor, but his header was turned away su­perbly by keeper Mar­cus Bet­tinelli.

But de­fen­sively Ful­ham let them­selves down yet again. They didn’t deal with a cor­ner when Cot­ter­ill swung the ball back in and Mor­ri­son got to it first, head­ing past Bet­tinelli to make the keeper’s first-half won­der save re­dun­dant.

From that point it be­came a fa­mil­iar story for Ful­ham, if with a slightly bet­ter end­ing.

They man­aged to hang on de­spite in­creas­ing Birm­ing­ham pres­sure that peaked in the 83rd minute when David Davis’ vol­ley smacked against the post, de­flected off Bet­tinelli and fell per­fectly for Clay­ton Don­ald­son, only for the striker to lift his shot over the bar.

Birm­ing­ham are now six points off the play-off places with a game in hand.

“It was a mis­take, Kuszczak should have got the ball in his hands and he let it get away,” said Birm­ing­ham boss Gary Rowett.

“Teams are mov­ing away from us but we are still in with a shout and we are still push­ing hard.

“If we can make it, fan­tas­tic. If we don’t, we have had one hell of a sea­son try­ing. The play­ers are pos­i­tive about it.”

PIC­TURES: Alan Franklin/Pro Sport

POINT GAINED: Birm­ing­ham de­fender Michael Mor­ri­son cel­e­brates his equaliser and, in­set, Ful­ham mid­fielder Rohan Ince af­ter his strike

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