This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Comment’ series, this content strand is where the author of the article issues their personal opinion on the topic at hand….
Fulham saw their Championship promotion hopes suffer a blow over the weekend as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat against a struggling Barnsley side at Craven Cottage.
Scott Parker’s side would have entered the match hoping to keep the pace with second-placed Leeds in their question for an automatic-promotion spot, but Cauley Woodrow’s double in addition to a strike from Jacob Brown sunk the Cottagers.
The result now means that the West London side are three points behind Leeds in second spot following their win over Bristol City, while Parker’s men are now only three points clear of the seventh-placed Robins in a tight promotion race.
Fulham received plenty of criticism following their unexpected defeat at the hands of Gerhard Struber’s relegation-threatened side, with the Cottagers’ goalkeeper Marek Rodak receiving the worst of it following his blatant errors.
The 23-year-old conceded the penalty which led to Woodrow’s opener inside the first half, while the stopper also misjudged a through ball in the second period as he was beaten to the loose ball by Brown who then tucked it into an empty net.
It could certainly be argued that Rodak was solely responsible for both these goals which saw the Tykes take a two-goal lead at the Cottage, but Parker should definitely still stick with the Slovakian despite these calamitous defensive errors.
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This is because Rodak has been such an impressive performer since replacing Marcus Bettinelli in the Fulham side this term, with the 23-year-old having kept eight clean sheets in his 20 Championship outings since stepping into the side in August.
Bettinelli was removed from the starting line-up due to his consistent errors in between the sticks, but Rodak has proved to be a much more reliable presence up until now with this weekend’s Barnsley clash having been his first poor display.
Rodak certainly cannot afford to make habit of the clear errors which saw Barnsley clinch victory on Saturday, but the goalkeeper has earned the right to further chances in the side as a result of his excellent form for Parker’s side this term.
It would represent a knee-jerk reaction for Bettinelli to now reclaim his spot in the side following Rodak’s first mistakes in a Fulham shirt, and Parker will know he needs to ignore any claims from supporters suggesting he should be dropped.
The situation may be different if these sloppy errors become the normal expectation from Rodak, but his previous displays this campaign suggest his Barnsley performance was very much an exception rather than the rule.