Fulham appeared to be heading out of the relegation zone on Saturday, until a calamitous last 15 minutes saw them throw two points away.
The Cottagers began the weekend third-bottom of the Premier League, but in the knowledge that the two sides below them play each other on Sunday afternoon, whilst Norwich City, two points and one place ahead of them, faced the unenviable task of taking on Manchester United in Ryan Giggs’ first game in charge.
A visit from FA Cup finalists Hull City, who have likely secured a second successive campaign in the top-flight, was the challenge which lay in wait for Felix Magath and his side, and goals from Ashkan Dejagah and Fernando Amorebieta within the space of four minutes before the hour cast them in a good position to see the match out.
However, Nikica Jelavic halved the deficit on 75 minutes to set hearts racing amongst the home supporters, and then Shane Long levelled the score with just three minutes remaining. Although the result from Old Trafford went Fulham’s way, with United easing past the Canaries 4-0, they will doubtless see their 2-2 draw as two vital points dropped.
Had they managed to hold onto their advantage they would now be out of the relegation zone, but they will drop to second-bottom by the end of the weekend regardless of the outcome of the Sunderland v Cardiff City match at the Stadium of Light. Magath believes the pressure of the situation got to his players against the Tigers, but he has told them there is still enough time left for them to accumulate the points required to stay up.
“Unfortunately the pressure was too much,” said the German, who is usually associated with the right end of the table in his homeland. “We have to win the two last games, that wasn’t what we wanted but as long as there’s a chance we have to take it. Now we have to stand up and show we can do it. I’ve told them it’s not too late.”
One potential plus for Fulham is that in their remaining two matches, they play against sides who have little to play for. Saying that, with Stoke City chasing their first ever top-ten finish in the Premier League, the trip to Britannia Stadium could be difficult. And on the final weekend of the season Crystal Palace, who have been transformed since the appointment of Tony Pulis, travel across the capital to visit Craven Cottage.