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High Scoring Fulham Thrash Hopeless Wolves

Sunday 4th March 2012
If the Wolves board and fans thought sacking the man who led them to Premiership safety last year and replacing him with his assistant Terry Connor would keep them up, then today's thrashing at the hands of high-flying Fulham confirmed the fears of many neutrals that they may be incorrect.

Pavel Pogrebnyak left the field to a standing ovation after 85 minutes having scored his first Premiership hat trick for in-form Fulham, who delighted their fans with a free-flowing attacking performance which should be purred about for weeks to come.

The five-goal winning margin could have been worse for the visitors who failed to show the passion or ability to win a game at the highest level at any point in the 90 minutes, epitomised by their failure to manage a shot on target until stoppage-time at the end of the second half. The wide margin of the defeat sees Wolves drop back into the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of next weeks visit of fellow strugglers Blackburn.

Fulham's performance was quite the opposite, full of attacking verve and the style Martin Jol has been trying to install in his side since his arrival last summer. His intentions were made clear by his team selection. Leading scorer Clint Dempsey was up front alongside new signing Pogrebnyak and Andy Johnson whilst the midfield was being anchored by Danny Murphy and flanked by Damien Duff and Belgian international Moussa Dembele, whose presence added flair and creativity to an already attacking side.

Wolves on the other hand were clearly playing for a point from the off, with leading scorer Stephen Fletcher starting on the bench and Kevin Doyle plying a difficult looking lone striker role against a Fulham defence who are notoriously well organised. In stark contrast to Fulham, Terry Connor's midfield on paper looked one heavily reliant on wide men Matt Jarvis and Michael Kightly to perhaps create opportunities for Doyle.

However, that failed to happen at any point in the game and the Fulham flair was in full flight from the off. Neat build up play and slick passing from the home side opened up the visitors at will, with left-back John Arne Riise's continuous appearances on the left hand side of the penalty box epitomising Fulham's dominance. Had he not been so wasteful, the first-half score line could have been much worse than it eventually was for Wolves.

Not helped by captain Karl Henry going off through injury early on, the visitors had been struggling to deal with Fulham's attacking threat. On 36 minutes a disputed corner decision from referee Mike Jones and a delivery from Danny Murphy allowed the powerful Pogrebnyak to open the scoring with a header when unmarked in the six yard box.

Wolves responded in kind by having slightly more possession than previously but their attacks constantly broke down because their hopeful punts up field continuously found the heads of Phillipe Senderos and Brede Hangeland. With that in mind, it was unsurprising that Pogrebnyak's second goal of the half came as a result of a hospital cross-field pass by makeshift central midfielder Kevin Foley.

He gave the ball to an under pressure Ronald Zubar who lost out to Dempsey, who set free Johnson. He timed his cross perfectly for Pogrebnyak who gave Hennessy no chance to give the hosts a 2-0 lead going into the break.

Surprisingly Wolves made no changes for the second half and consequently things quickly went from bad to disastrous for the Premiership strugglers when Dempsey capitalised on some slack defending to take the ball past Hennessy for his 12th league goal of the season after 56 minutes.

Wolves were now in turmoil, but with still no changes made by their rookie manager their misery was compounded by Fulham's new Russian striker. Hennessy parried Andy Johnson's neat turn and shot, only to see Pogrebnyak following up to seal his first Premiership hat-trick and fifth goal in three games.

Connor finally bought on his leading scorer Fletcher with the game out of sight and even the addition of a new striker did little to change the flow of the game. In fact, Fulham nearly got a fifth when Johnson had time and space to look up and curl a fine effort against the crossbar.

Fulham manager Jol was then able to give his fans a glimpse of new signing Mahamadou Diarra - who was signed as a free agent earlier this week - with the home side completely dominant. His arrival only extended the gulf in class between the two sides.

Things got worse for Wolves when Fulham added a fifth after 82 minutes. Not to be outdone by his new strike partner, American Dempsey ran into acres of space to receive a pass from Diarra and smash a shot past hapless Hennessy and expose Wolves' defensive frailties yet again.

Wolves return to the Molineux for the first time since their humiliation by local rivals West Brom on the back of yet another embarrassing performance for their fans. Connor will have to go into the game with a much more positive mindset and formation if he has any aspirations of picking up a result from the game.
Matt Rumble

Total articles: 6

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