‘TOBLERONE’ FAILS TO KEEP HIS HEAD
IAN Holloway was still in the mood to crack jokes, despite his QPR side going down at home to Fulham on Friday night.
The colourful 54-year-old poked fun at Alex Smithies, after his goalkeeper ventured up the pitch for an injury-time corner.
But rather than head the ball home for a dramatic equaliser after rising highest, the 27-year-old’s lack of practice in front of goal told and his effort flew way wide – and Holloway reckons Smithie has earned himself a new nickname.
“The boys are calling him Toblerone head after that,” he joked. “I wouldn’t have sent him up if I’d known that!
“It’s quite a surreal feeling when you see your team still fighting and the chances coming, and we would have got at least what we deserved.”
Holloway was adamant that his side were worthy of a draw after the end-to-end encounter came to a close, and the chances were shared before the opening goal.
Rui Fonte slammed the ball into the sidenetting on 25 minutes after Ryan Fredericks played him in, before Jake Bidwell wasted an opportunity for the hosts from just inside the area.
But Fulham took the lead before the break in fortuitous circumstances; right-back Fredericks’ 25-yard drive took a massive deflection off Jack Robinson, leaving Smithies helpless.
Luke Freeman curled a free-kick wide just after the hour mark as the frenetic pace continued, but it was the visitors who had the best chance to kill off the game when substitute Neeskens Kebano was felled by Joel Lynch inside the area.
And while Fonte then blazed the penalty over the bar, just two minutes later he made amends by finding Stefan Johansen, who made it 2-0, slotting home low from the edge of the area.
Conor Washington set up a grandstand finish in the second of nine stoppage-time minutes, volleying right-footed after Matt Smith headed back across goal, but the unmarked Smithies glanced wide at the death.
“The second goal was disappointing, just after they missed a penalty – and justice was done there, no one was near him,” Holloway added.
“But after that, they broke again and when that ball got squared, how can we allow two touches on the edge of our area, just after they’ve missed a penalty? But such is life.”
Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic believes his new-look side are finally starting to click and is predicting big things to come from the Cottagers.
“We are a completely new team,” he said. “Tonight was 50 per cent of the players from last season.
“I am always happy with three points and to win a west London derby, but we had to be brave.
“The last few minutes it was a completely different game. A lot of things were happening in the penalty box, but we defended well.
“We are not lucky and we have another player [Sheyi Ojo] in hospital tonight. It is some kind of dislocation of his shoulder. But hopefully after the international break we will get some of our important players back.
“We believe when we start working all together and push each other that all the players can be better than they actually are right now.
“We need to compete in training to be ready to compete during the competition. We are going to push each other to try and be successful.”
HOT WORK: Fulham’s Stefan Johansen celebrates scoring their second goal with team-mates. Inset: Johansen fires home