BY YANN TEAR
Scott Parker singled out midfielder Harrison Reed for praise following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to West Brom, but warned that his side needs to stick to its game plan to avoid frittering points.
The Fulham boss was left deflated as his players threw away a promising start – carelessly surrendering the advantage at Craven Cottage to make it four matches without a win since the 4-0 mauling of Millwall.
The Whites really should have put the game to bed long before the 80th minute, when Albion equalised, such was the amount of possession they enjoyed and the decent chances they carved out.
But they allowed Albion defender Semi Ajayi to nod home from close range, cancelling out an earlier goal from Anthony Knockaert.
In spite of that, 24-year-old Reed, on loan from Southampton, had an eye-catching outing in only his second start for the Whites – winning tackles and making his presence felt.
He also produced one great slide-rule pass which should have been put away by Tom Cairney, and seemed to relish the extra responsibility because of the absence of a suspended Harry Arter.
“I was really impressed with him. I thought he was outstanding,” Parker said.
“We brought him in against Cardiff last week – a tough team and it was difficult for him, and I thought against WBA he was immense really.
“Bobby Reid’s the same. He’s come in late on [in the transfer window] and they’ve bought into what we are trying to do.
“I think players like Tom Cairney and Bobby Reid – the attacking players – need a Harrison Reed in the team and he was very good.”
Reed is keen to establish himself and perhaps seal a permanent move, having had loan spells in the previous two seasons with Norwich and Blackburn.
Reed said: “It’s getting to the stage where I’d like to settle down.
“It would be nice to know that this is my club and I can help them to push forward. I feel I can bring energy to the team, plus grit and tenacity.
“When we get the ball, I can bring some calm. I can keep things ticking over.”
Parker’s delight at Reed’s contribution could not entirely make up for the feeling that Saturday was a match that should have been comfortably won.
“I’m disappointed overall with the result,” he said. “I thought the first half we were dominant, had some glorious opportunities really and probably it’s fair to say if you go 2-0 up in at half-time, I don’t think anyone would be grudging.
“But I felt that after the goal, we probably played into West Brom’s hands and got away from what we are about and how I want us to play.
“We turned the game into a bit of a basketball match. We go back to front very early with 50-50 balls all of a sudden, whereas before that I felt we controlled the game and it was on our terms.
“But if there’s one thing I know about this game it’s that you dust yourself off and as long as you feel you are on the right track – and I certainly feel like we’re on the right track.
“Of course I get it, I’m not stupid and realise people are always going to judge you by results.
I understand that. In my position, sometimes what’s more important is that you see a process, you see identity and the way you want your team to play. That’s what I believe.”
Parker will have to ensure his players stick to their game plan of passing out patiently from the back rather than go long when the going gets tough.
His team were guilty of abandoning their style in the second half, inviting trouble and he will not want to see a repeat of those foibles at Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.
“If you are going to pump the ball up to Mitro [Aleksandar Mitrovic] who’s got two men around him, there’s only a 50-50 chance he’s going to win it, so that was a disappointment,” said Fulham’s head coach.
“These players, what we’re asking of them is how we want them to pay. For one, I feel that’s the only way we can play and that’s the way we’re going to win football matches this year, but for two, I can’t say how brave they are. It takes huge bravery to do what they do.
“First half, the crowd were on them a little bit, I sensed an edginess about [Marcus] Bettinelli playing out from the back. But why are we doing that?
We are doing it for a reason. West Brom are going to sit off us and we need to carve out openings
“The easy option is for Bettinelli to bang it down to Mitrovic, but for me these players and this team will not win football matches like that.
I want the players to believe in what they are doing and have the courage and bravery at 1-0 up, or when West Brom are in the ascendancy, to keep doing it.”
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