Kit Symons’ outfit might be in the bottom six but they are decent enough in front of their own fans and Andy Tongue thinks they can earn a share of the spoils in Friday night’s live Championship clash…
Fulham v Bournemouth
Friday 6 March
Live on Sky Sports 1
The Cottagers illustrated what a topsy-turvy league this is last Saturday when, having not won for six games, they outplayed leaders Derby for a deserved and comfortable 2-0 win. They have lost just one of their last seven at home, though, and that was to Ipswich, who were going well at the time.
It’s away from Craven Cottage where Kit Symons’ men have won only three times this season, a record better than just rock-bottom Blackpool and on a par with Rotherham. Tuesday night’s reverse at in-form Watford wasn’t unexpected then but the visitors acquitted themselves well in another improved display and could have easily snatched a point in the second-half with a bit of luck, suggesting they have arrested the recent slump.
Striker Matt Smith made an impact after coming on at Vicarage Road and could be in line for a starting spot in front of the cameras and Symons will hope Scott Parker is able to return in midfield after missing the midweek game through injury.
The Cherries had gone off the boil slightly, going five games without a win before bouncing back with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at home to in-form Wolves on Tuesday night. Mercurial Frenchman Yann Kermorgant grabbed both goals but in truth their performance against wasn’t hugely dissimilar to the previous games – this time they enjoyed the rub of the green and took advantage to stay just three points behind Middlesbrough, who are now the league leaders.
Howe’s side lost at rejuvenated Nottingham Forest in their last away game and were easily beaten by Brentford in the previous fixture on the road so they will have something to prove here, especially knowing that a win would actually take them back top on goal difference. Prior to those defeats they had enjoyed victories away from home against a quartet of bottom six clubs – Millwall, Rotherham, Blackpool and Wigan.
The Cherries’ boss isn’t afraid to rotate his squad but is likely to start with Callum Wilson up front again alongside Kermorgant after he contributed both assists on Tuesday.
The market makes the visitors the 2.0621/20 favourites and given the two sides respective positions in the table you can understand why. The win over Wolves showed another side to the Cherries’ character – grinding out the three points to end a poor run – a contrast to the free-flowing, attacking style, which has characterised their approach this season.
However, Fulham, available to back at 3.953/1 for the win, are a different kettle of fish at the Cottage and can give anyone a game in front of their own fans. They appear to have turned a corner themselves in the last couple of weeks and I expect them to get something out of this one.
Backing the draw was a profitable strategy for us last season and it’s one I’m going to revisit to try and move back into the black this time around. Outside of the bottom two or three, there’s never too much between teams in the Championship (unless one is either in red-hot form or on a terrible run) and the two sides should be pretty evenly-matched here with Fulham enjoying home advantage. That makes the draw the main recommended bet at 3.7511/4.
Fulham striker Ross McCormack is somebody who appears to enjoy home comforts – six of his last seven goals have come at Craven Cottage. He can blow hot and cold but his record at this level is second to none and when he’s in the mood he is threat both inside the penalty box and shooting from distance.
Knowing that the television cameras are here could mean we see one of his live wire performances here and the last time Fulham played under lights at home he scored a hat-trick in the win over Nottingham Forest so let’s back him to score anytime at 3.412/5 over on the Sportsbook.
Back The Draw at 3.7511/4
Back Ross McCormack to score anytime at 3.412/5 on Sportsbook
Staked: 100 pts
Returned: 99.04 pts
P/L: – 0.96 pts
*2pts best bet if stated
1pt other recommended bets