Despite a nightmare start to their early kick-off match, Fulham fought back against an impressive Watford side to claim a 1-1 draw that both teams will certainly be content with.
Fulham could not have wished for a more disappointing opening few minutes to this encounter, where their failure to defend a long-throw led to them going behind after one minute and thirty seconds.
Alfie Mawson, making only his third start for his new club, mistimed a simple header and gifted the ball to Will Hughes, who played a sloppy but effective one-two with Andre Gray who proceeded to blast his side in front inside the penalty area.
Aleksander Mitrovic flicked his fifth goal of the season in superbly with only ten minutes to spare in the game, but Fulham may be wondering what could have been if they had begun the game with more caution.
Watford still in the top five
With this point, Watford are guaranteed to stay in the top five this week, an impressive feat and a real indicator of the changing mood at the club.
Their form under Javi Gracia near the end of last season was abysmal and gave no indication of the potential within the squad, but with the revitalisation of Andre Gray this season, again a scorer in this game, as well as the industrious talent of Will Hughes and the underrated solidity and flair of Abdoulaye Doucouré in the centre of the midfield, there appears to be no shortage of optimism that this run of results could continue for a while yet.
Alfie Mawson struggling to adapt
Despite Watford’s great early-season form, Fulham would have been hoping to use the home advantage to help claim all three points against a team that, before the season began, Fulham would have been confident of beating.
Despite the excellent second-half performance that won them a share of the spoils, the biggest concern for Fulham will be the performance of Alfie Mawson, who was directly at fault for the opening goal and was taken off at half-time such was his susceptibility to errors.
The fact that the game came back into Fulham’s control after he departed the field could be seen as a coincidence but it is still concerning that this signing, bought for fifteen million pounds, is finding it hard to fit into their back-four. He has time to adapt and develop, having only just come back from an injury, but the Fulham fans will be hoping to see some improvement from him in the coming weeks.
Mitrovic more than proving his worth
It feels like a very long time ago that Aleksander Mitrovic was the oddball, supposed liability signing for Newcastle back in 2015.
The striker had serious discipline problems at his previous club, Anderlecht, and that tendency for yellow and red cards continued in the Premier League.
It feels like he has found a home at Fulham however, joining them on loan in January last season to have a huge impact in getting them promoted and now, having joined them permanently, proving himself as a totally able and red-hot striker in the Premier League as well.
The second half belonged to him; his equaliser was an impressive and precise flick from a left-sided cross and in the last few minutes of the game it was Mitrovic alone who nearly won it for the Cottagers.
If it were not for the heroics of Ben Foster in the Watford goal, and the rattling of the crossbar from a superb header, Mitrovic would be easily have been the hero today and would have made it six goals in six starts this season.
He may yet prove at some stage this season that his tendency for frustration and ill-discipline hasn’t gone away entirely, but if he stays as calm as this while still scoring goals regularly then there will be serious questions asked of Newcastle’s decision to let him go.
In this highly-entertaining draw both sides would point to incidents which could have led either of them to steal all three points, but by sharing a point each neither team will be feeling too unhappy by the end of the day. Watford are still flying high in the top five, and will remain there today, but if Fulham keep improving in the steady fashion that they are, then there is no reason to think they may be unsettled by relegation worries this season.
Man of the Match – Aleksander Mitrovic
The Serbian is the easy choice for the Man of the Match award in this early kick-off encounter, with his singular goal rescuing a point for Fulham and his late efforts proving to be only inches away from snatching all three.
His five goals in six games are the sole reason why Fulham remain optimistic this season, with the service to him improving game by game and his confidence only growing the longer this excellent scoring streak continues.