Pep Clotet demands clarity from EFL as Birmingham City fall to Fulham

Match report

Birmingham City came within a minute of a valiant point at Fulham only to be hit by a sucker punch deep into added time.

Pep Clotet’s men looked to have negotiated a difficult afternoon at Craven Cottage with a determined rearguard action – until Josh Onomah struck in the fifth minute of added time.

As a result they are still looking for their first Championship victory in nine matches and nervously over their shoulders with an uncertain restart to their season. This was heartbreaking.

After starting so sloppily in their previous two matches  Blues  needed to be more assertive from the first minute – and they certainly were.

Indeed they had by far the better chances of the first half, twice striking the woodwork and having a good penalty shout as Fulham dominated possession but the visitors came closest to scoring.

Jude Bellingham had their two most clear opportunities, in the second minute failing to capitalise on Michael Hector’s blind back-pass when he tried to take it around Marek Rodak.

Soon after that he picked up a loose clearance from Anthony Knockaert but curled straight at the Fulham goalkeeper from 20 yards.

And just before the quarter hour the excellent Jeremie Bela raced away from Hector and his cross was deflected up to the 17-year-old who nodded on to the crossbar.

Three minutes before the break Blues felt they should have had a penalty when Denis Odoi leaned into a ball into the box which appeared to touch his arm.

The hosts were far more positive in the second half not only monopolising the ball but actually using it to better effect and at times laying siege to the Birmingham goal.

Most of their openings fell to Knockaert who hit tamely at Lee Camp after being found by Ivan Cavaleiro just before the midway point.

Then with a quarter of an hour the Belgian escaped in behind Kristian Pedersen only to fire into the near side netting.

Camp was severely tested in the final ten minutes though as Joe Bryan, Onomah and  Bobby De Cordova-Reid were all kept out superbly.

He was finally beaten in the 95th minute when former Aston Villa loan man Onomah swept home from 15 yards to break Blues’ hearts.

Pep’s reaction

Blues boss Pep Clotet has discussed the decision to make ‘negative’ substitutions while holding Fulham to a point yesterday.

Fulham eventually won with a late goal, and Clotet has explained the reasoning behind some of his changes.

“It was a physical element,” he explained.  “Jeremie played the full game on Wednesday and I could not risk an injury to him. I think it was sensible to take him off.

“And Scott as well has been playing every game since West Brom – of course with Jukey and Harlee coming on you would expect us to hold that defensive position a little bit better.

“At that moment the game was very difficult with Fulham pushing with eight or nine players attacking.

“It was very difficult to have the chance to try break apart from set plays – and we thought Harlee and Juke helped…

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