MARTIN’S RED HOT NOW HE’S IN FROM COLD

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Gra­ham Ot­way

FUL­HAM fans will be thank­ful that Chris Martin’s fu­ture at Craven Cot­tage ap­pears to have been sorted af­ter his two vi­tal con­tri­bu­tions to this vic­tory over Barnsley.

Club and player have been at war since the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional re­fused to play over New Year, go­ing on strike be­cause he couldn’t cut short his loan and re­turn to Derby.

Since spend­ing Christ­mas with his fu­ture in limbo, Martin, Ful­ham’s top scorer this sea­son, re­fused to join the start­ing line­ups against Ip­swich and Brighton, and also the fog-aban­doned match against Read­ing.

How­ever, Whites boss Slav­isa Jokanovic had a heart-to-heart with Martin in mid­week and got an in­stant pay­back with a vic­tory which took Ful­ham to within a point of Derby in the ta­ble with both team chal­leng­ing for the play-off places.

And Jokanovic is de­lighted Martin’s loan spell is now being ex­tended. He said : “Chris does a great job for Ful­ham and the peo­ple here know how im­por­tant he is for us.

“We have fought hard to get him to stay here and his per­for­mance showed what a great pro­fes­sional he is. I am very happy that he is back with us.”

In a first half largely dom­i­nated by Ful­ham with Nige­rian Sone Aluko and Chelsea loa­nee Lu­cas Pi­a­zon mak­ing a se­ries of dan­ger­ous raids down their right flank, Martin saw his early snap­shot ef­fort well saved by Adam Davies.

Half-time was just five min­utes away when Barnsley launched their first se­ri­ous at­tempt on goal which saw Adam Ham­mill hit the cross­bar with a clever chip af­ter his own pow­er­ful run from mid­field.

How­ever, it was two in­ter­ven­tions by Martin just ei­ther side of the in­ter­val which set­tled the des­ti­na­tion of the three points.

In first-half in­jury-time Martin was pushed in the back by Barnsley’s An­gus Mac­Don­ald and quickly got back to his feet to con­vert the penalty that was harshly awarded by ref­eree Andy Davies .

Ten min­utes af­ter the break Martin turned provider. As part of a counter at­tack he could have made a di­rect run on the Barnsley goal but chose in­stead to send a deep cross into the area which Scott Malone pow­ered home for Ful­ham’s sec­ond and his own third of the sea­son.

That was the end of Barnsley’s chal­lenge and it was only a se­ries of re­ac­tion saves from Davies that pre­vented Ful­ham from dou­bling their ad­van­tage.

The lack of at­tack­ing flair showed by Barnsley through­out sug­gested they may have made a big mis­take by sell­ing their top scorer Sam Win­nall to York­shire ri­vals Sh­effield Wed­nes­day.

Barnsley’s head coach Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom rang the changes by send­ing on three sub­sti­tutes in the 70th minute but their ap­pear­ance made no dif­fer­ence – al­though it might have been a dif­fer­ent story had ref­eree Davies not make an­other ques­tion­able penalty de­ci­sion.

In the 80th minute Barnsley sub­sti­tute Adam Arm­strong ap­peared to be the vic­tim of a de­lib­er­ate push in the back from Thomas Kalas in the Ful­ham area. It looked a far more bla­tant of­fence than the one which pre­sented Martin with his penalty, but Davies waved away the Barnsley ap­peals.

Heck­ing­bot­tom said: “The penalty was a killer for us be­cause you don’t want to go be­hind at Ful­ham. We were sec­ond best through­out.”

PIC­TURE: ProS­port/ Andy Walker

LOOK WHO’S BACK: Ful­ham striker Chris Martin re­turns with a goal

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