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Whites run on empty


Reckless defending at Craven Cottage on Saturday saw Fulham pass up the chance to move out of the drop zone. A pall of despair descended over the famous old ground that soured the weekend for every long-suffering Fulham fan. Two goals up with 15 minutes to play, the rapid drop off in standards and application at the death were gruesome to behold if you were a home supporter as Hull fought back to claim a point. The draw surely means Fulham must win both their two remaining games to stand any chance of beating the drop, especially as a resurgent Sunderland are the only struggler suddenly pulling out all the stops. - Report: Fulham 2-2 Hull City I stood off on filing yet another tale of despair in the hope that the club's youngsters on Monday night could rescue the mood as they faced Chelsea in the first leg of the Youth Cup final. Well my friends, the positives are that while the Premiership survival hangs by a thread, the U-18's continue to do the club proud. The future at least holds much promise. In another cracking game before a very healthy crowd, the Fulham kids edged out a very skilful Chelsea side 3-2. Having failed with a first-half penalty kick in trying to be too cute, Mousa Dembele led the fightback -- inevitably, as the Whites hit the net three times in a nine minute spell. Prior to the match, London's evening paper took an in-depth look at the tremendous Academy set up Fulham put in place five years ago. League champions in their division for the last three seasons, these boys are one game away from lifting the Youth Cup for the first time in Fulham's history. Hopefully plenty of these starlets will be in regular first-team action from next season. It cannot come quickly enough because, by accident or design, the seniors yet again this campaign failed to last the Premiership pace. Hull found an extra gear in the last 15 minutes while Fulham players looked out on their feet. Two dreadful goals were handed to the Tigers on a plate, negating Ashkan Dejagah's delicious swerve and shot into the top corner, and Fernando Amorebieta's first goal for the club. The stark facts were there for all to see. As blogged in the preview, Fulham's resources have been alarmingly threadbare for way too long. At the final whistle Saturday, Magath's men in the Craven Cottage sun averaged 30 years of age. No wonder most of them sank to their knees at the end. Over the past fraught weeks the manager has yet to explain why key players can apparently not last the 90 minutes in the Fulham cause. I'm thinking Dejagah of course, but also Lewis Holtby, Kieran Richardson, Sascha Riether, Scott Parker. Hull got their point through opportunism from two strikers, both added to the side in January. Fulham's two strikers mis-fired, carried little threat, and barely worked the keeper. After 13 seasons in the Premier League, the Cottagers are going down, and no wonder. Once last season's 15-goal man Dimitar Berbatov hopped on a plane to the sun, there remained no genuine goalscorer in the side. Oh yes, Fulham have a man under contract who knows where the net is. He cost a pretty packet too. But of course we all know what happened with him. For such folly, though it pains me to say it, Fulham FC must pay the price. Mathematically, Magath can still pull it out of the fire. Twenty thousand odd fans however at the weekend saw a midfield wheezing its way to the whistle, and a back four that suddenly froze with fear. Even the gaffer was forced to admit this bunch of old pros were mentally fragile. Really? With all those games under their belt, and now without the nous to defend a 2-0 lead on 75 minutes? This was Hull City out there, not Real Madrid. The side is not good enough. Steve Sidwell's injury was unlucky perhaps. But the substitutions were bizarre, the bench is weak, and the final result another reminder we supporters no longer have a side worthy of the top flight. twitter@fulhamphil

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