‘Heartbreaking’ – Birmingham City players’ ratings as Fulham strikes late

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Birmingham City came within a minute of a valiant point in Fulham to be struck by a suction cup deep in overtime.Pep Clotet’s men seemed to have negotiated a difficult afternoon at Craven Cottage with determined rearguard action – until Josh Onomah struck in the fifth minute of added time.

As a result, they are still looking for their first Championship victory in nine games and nervously on their shoulders with an uncertain restart of their season. It was heartbreaking.

After having started so badly in their two previous matches, the Blues had to be more assertive from the first minute – and they certainly were.

Indeed, they had by far the best chances in the first half, hitting the woodwork twice and having a good penalty stroke while Fulham dominated possession but the visitors were the closest to the score.

Jude Bellingham had his two clearest opportunities in the second minute, missing out on Michael Hector’s blind backpass when he attempted to bypass Marek Rodak.

Shortly thereafter, he recovered a loose clearance from Anthony Knockaert but curled up directly on Fulham’s goalkeeper 20 yards away.

And just before the quarter of an hour, the excellent Jeremie Bela moved away from Hector and his center was diverted to the 17-year-old who nodded towards the crossbar.

Three minutes before the break, the Blues estimated that they should have had a penalty when Denis Odoi looked at a ball in the area that seemed to touch his arm.



The hosts were much more positive in the second half, not only monopolizing the ball, but actually using it to play better and sometimes besiege the Birmingham goal.

Most of their openings fell on Knockaert who quietly knocked on Lee Camp after being found by Ivan Cavaleiro just before halfway through.

Then with a quarter of an hour, the Belgian escaped behind Kristian Pedersen to shoot in the nearby side net.

Camp was severely tested in the final ten minutes as Joe Bryan, Onomah and Bobby De Cordova-Reid were all sidelined.

He was finally beaten in the 95th minute when former Aston Villa lender Onomah rose 15 yards to break the hearts of the Blues.

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4-5-1

CAMP 9

Really diligently protected in the first half when he organized what was in front of him but had no shots to stop.

Busier in the third quarter, a worrying drop in Bryan’s free kick but unpunished. Good alert except for Kebano’s late driving and a superb double stop four minutes from the end. Did not deserve to be on the losing side.



Lee Camp

COLIN 8

Given the captain’s armband and responded with a studious demonstration in defense against Ivan Cavaleiro and Tom Cairney who chose the seams on the right side of the Blues.

ROBERTS 7.5

He looked unstable in the first two minutes – and a tackle before the break saw him booked – but overall, he looked very solid and dominant in the air.

CLARKE-SALTER 8.5

Was in the right place to come off a few times during the first half, showing a first class expectation. For so long has been a defensive wall for one man because he seemed to be blocking everything – even his yellow card was cleverly won.

PEDERSEN 7.5

To a large extent, Knockaert remained discreet in the top 45, winning important headers and reading the game well.

Under much more pressure from the Belgian in the second half and more or less held up. Best display since his return.



And Denis Odoi of Crowley and Fulham

CROWLEY 6.5

His first half was just as remarkable for his harrying and out of possession swing as everything he did with the ball. A mature and committed exhibition that speaks volumes about his work ethic.

SUNJIC 6.5

Called back to the team and seated and held their position very well, tackling tackles and cleaning when needed. Tired late, of course.

GARDNER 7.5

Seemed much more stable with Ivan Sunjic next to him and less distance between the lines of Blues. He played a leading role without the captain’s armband.



BELA 7

Absolutely ripped Fulham on the right side to shreds from the start, giving Christie and Hector first-half nightmares.

The Blues struggled to find him in the second half, when Fulham pressed and his influence diminished.



Jeremie Bela

BELLINGHAM 5

Deployed in an advanced role behind Hogan and had three good chances of giving the Blues a quick lead – the fact that he may not have explained some of the stray tackles that resulted in a reservation.

This may explain why it was submerged before the hour. Not quite at its best.

HOGAN 6

Setting the tone in the first half when his pressure caused havoc with Fulham’s nervous back line. The ball did not fall into the surface in the first 45 but his pace of work was great.

SUBSTITUTES

DIAL PICTURE 5.5 (pour Bellingham, 57) Industrious

HARDENING 5 (for Bela, 74 years old)

JUTKIEWICZ5 minimal impact (for Hogan, 75)

DEAN (for Crowley, 84) N / A

Not used: Trueman, Gordon, Stirk, Boyd-Munce, Reid

OPPOSITION

FULHAM (4-3-3): Rodak; Christie, Ream, Hector, Odoi (Bryan 45); Cairney, Reed, Arter (Onomah 60); Cavaleiro (Kebano 70), De Cordova-Reid, Knockaert. Not used: Bettinelli, Le Marchard, Sessegnon, McDonald, Johansen, Jasper

BUTS

FULHAM: Onomah (90 + 5)

THE REF: Keith Stroud

FOLLOWING: Swansea (h), Wednesday July 8, kick-off at 6 p.m.

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