By 90Min
October 20, 2017

Heads were in hands when Fulham fell two goals behind within the first 45 minutes at home against Preston North End last Saturday; a deficit which issued the Whites more than just your average mountain to scale in the second half of the tie, if they were to snatch a result.

Time was ticking down by the river, and the chances of Slavisa Jokanovic's men clawing their way back into the tie were growing slimmer by the second. N

ow, penalties have never necessarily been one of Fulham's strongest points - especially after Rui Fonte's skied effort from the spot against Queens Park Rangers before the international break. However, in the 74th-minute Oliver Norwood was presented the opportunity to slam the ball home to give his squad a relative lifeline, a chance which he dispatched with steely, composed conviction.

With the bit between their teeth, Fulham were hunting for that golden equaliser throughout the remaining 20 minutes of the encounter, and after spells of relentless probing a lofted long ball into Preston's danger area was cushioned down by Tomas Kalas and fortuitously swept home by Denis Odoi in the 96th minute in front of a raucous Hammersmith stand.

It wasn't a classic, all guns blazing performance from the Cottagers by any means, but what it did highlight about the resilient fold is that they do in fact have a set of primed, sharpened teeth in them, on top of an attitude and ethic which spurs them to fight and brawl to the very bitter end for whatever is at stake.

Alex Neil's high-flying set-up were bullish, authoritative at times and opportunistic at Craven Cottage, but ultimately they could not withstand Fulham's coercive advances, with 'Slav's' squad staggeringly owning 70% of the overall possession statistics.

Aston Villa are next up on Fulham's domestic schedule, and a victory at Villa Park will see them leapfrog Steve Bruce's side who are currently 7th in the standings with 19 points, with the Whites tailing them by just 1 point in 9th.

Falling to a 2-0 defeat against table-topping Wolverhampton Wanderers in their last Championship outing, Villa will too have a point to prove in-front of their own fans when Fulham come to town on Saturday, so a fiery, intense game is expected come kick-off.

An unbeaten run is needed in both camps in order to maintain the pressure on the leading pack and the value of a victory for both parties after their respective stutters could also prove to be the catalyst for their seasons, though Fulham will be just as equally poised to compete in a feisty meeting in Birmingham.

Possession is certainly one desirable factor in Fulham's game, but the ability to ruthlessly slaughter their opponents for the 3 points has been lacking somewhat this season. so, fundamentally, if Fulham are to nestle themselves further up the Championship tree in the coming weeks, they'll have to hit the ground running and transform their sheer dominance into goals, with so many clinical attacking threats available within their richly talented offensive armoury.

Two consecutive away wins against Nottingham Forest and QPR showcased Fulham's winning mentality, but the draw against the 'Invincibles' at CC exemplified the club's tenacious, die-hard spirit when the heat is on. 

Jokanovic will undoubtedly be rooting for more of the same application on the turf at the 'Villans', although the Serb will be aware of the challenges that the Claret and Blue ferociously pose.

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