Fulham bounced back from their disappointing weekend defeat to Stoke by securing a much-needed 3-2 victory over Luton at Craven Cottage on Wednesday night.
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a hat-trick with strikes either side of half-time for Scott Parker’s side, while Daniel Potts and Kazenga LuaLua were on target for the Hatters as they failed to build on their 3-0 win against Bristol City.
The result means Fulham are now knocking on the door of the play-offs again with the West London side sitting seventh in the Championship ahead of their trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Parker’s men have now won six of their 13 matches in the second tier since their relegation last term, but it was not completely plain sailing for them on Wednesday night.
Here are three things we learned about Fulham during the match…
Mitrovic could singlehandedly fire Fulham to promotion
Mitrovic has already proved his credentials as a top Championship striker, but his clinical performance against the Hatters was clear evidence of his importance to Parker’s side.
Keeping Mitrovic at the Cottage over the summer was without doubt Fulham’s best piece of summer business, and his hat-trick proved that he can singlehandedly dictate the outcome of a game.
The 25-year-old has now netted 11 goals in 13 matches this season, with his presence becoming increasingly vital to Fulham. It remains to be seen what would happen if he was absent from the side, but Fulham fans will not want to think about that for now.
Will Fulham earn promotion from the Championship this term?
Fulham’s defence may cause them more problems this term
Fulham have now conceded two goals in each of their last three outings, and this record is not good enough for a side challenging for promotion, with their defensive frailties again laid bare on Tuesday.
The centre-back partnership of Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson looked stretched at times as Luton looked to expose Parker’s side vulnerabilities, but the Cottagers were lucky they could rely on Mitrovic to fire them out of trouble.
There is no doubt that Michael Hector’s arrival will boost the side in January, but they may even need further reinforcements if they are to push for a place back in the Premier League during the second half of the campaign.
Parker’s side are developing a habit of scoring late goals
This again ties in with Fulham’s questionable defence as the West London outfit are now getting into a worrying habit of conceding late goals, with LuaLua on target in the 93rd minute on Wednesday evening.
The goal did not have an enormous bearing on the result as Fulham were still able to see out the victory, but it points to a clear vulnerability which could create further problems down the line.
Parker’s men have also conceded goals within the last 10 minutes against the likes of Stoke, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday in recent weeks, and they must work harder to improve their game management before it becomes a serious issue.