Ipswich Town maintained their top-six spot in the Sky Bet Championship with a 2-1 victory at Fulham – their fourth straight away win.
The former West Ham forward Freddie Sears put the away side ahead after just 16 seconds thanks to some poor defending from the hosts. The Fulham defence allowed Sears to run on from kick-off and beat Richard Stearman and Dan Burn before finishing well.
It was not the best start for Fulham’s new senior coach Stuart Gray, and will have been less than happy with his side’s defending as they failed to win for a seventh game running.
Fulham were back in the game on 14 minutes as Ross McCormack’s excellent free-kick beat Dean Gerken for his 13th goal of the season.
The hosts put pressure on their visitors, but Ipswich looked composed and went back ahead when Pitman converted Sears’ cross in off the post.
Fulham never really looked like finding an equaliser despite forcing two late corners, leaving supporters voicing their disapproval at the finish.
The West London club continue to struggle and sit five points and places away from the drop zone. They face fellow relegation battlers Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and will need to end their poor streak.
Ipswich sit in sixth place – a point ahead of Cardiff City.
Football League World writer Ashley Williams identifies three things that we learned from the game…
1) Ipswich’s difficult festive run in
Three points over Fulham on Tuesday was crucial as Mick McCarthy’s players face some very difficult sides in the next four games.
Three out of the four games ahead of them are against Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley, and Derby County, all of which are in the top six.
They will need to pick up points in every single game if they want to keep up with the competitive nature of the play-off race.
A bad run for Ipswich could see them slip to mid table, such is the tight race for the top six.
2) Is it all downhill for Fulham?
The Fulham fans voiced their opinions at the end of the game.
They want to see better performances from the side, which are lacking in confidence.
Gray has been brought in as the ‘senior coach’ as they seek a permanent replacement for Kit Symons who was sacked six weeks ago.
He needs to get them playing well as they look like they could lose some of their star players in January such as McCormack and Moussa Dembele.
3) Fulham’s sloppy defence
Despite Fulham’s attacking talent, you can’t win games without a strong defence.
They have leaked 37 goals this season, which is the second worst in the division behind Rotherham United.
That was evident in the game on Tuesday, as some poor defending lead to Sears’ early goal.
Fulham need to show composure at the back as the side are regularly being caught out by sloppy mistakes. They need to bring in someone in January who is an organiser as they are in serious threat of being dragged into a relegation scrap.
Fulham and Ipswich fans… what did you make of the game? What do Fulham need to turn around their season? Can Ipswich compete with the big sides? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!