In a tense 2-1 victory over Sunderland on Friday night, Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic changed the course of the match with brilliantly timed substitutions.
The attacking introductions of Aboubakar Kamara and Rui Fonte massively contributed to the Whites’ success and revealed an impressive depth in the Fulham squad that will benefit them in a potential play-off campaign.
With wingers Floyd Ayite, Sheyi Ojo, and Neeskens Kebano all out injured for the match against the Black Cats, Jokanovic was forced to make major changes to his bench.
And when left-back Matt Targett hobbled off after 40 minutes, the Fulham manager faced a big decision.
Many at Craven Cottage expected fellow full-back Cyrus Christie to come off the bench in a like-for-like replacement, yet Jokanovic shocked the crowd when he elected for Kamara to enter the fray.
It was a massive gamble, representing the 23-year-old Frenchman’s first appearance since 30 March against Norwich City. In addition, it forced Ryan Sessegnon to drop to full-back and away from his now-favoured left-wing position.
However, the switch proved to be an inspired change. Kamara played a starring role in Fulham’s opening goal, and his powerful running and direct dribbling skills terrorised the tiring Sunderland backline.
As well as possessing brute strength and pace, the French attacker also has a knack for superb ingenuity and inventiveness. His flicks, tricks, and cutbacks were equally as brilliant against the Mackems.
In addition, much-maligned striker Rui Fonte made an appearance in the home win, performing with admirable poise and technical class.
His intelligent passes and composure steadied the match for Fulham, and his celebrations after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s winner showed how much the win meant to the Portuguese forward.
The two vital Fulham subs turned around the match, revealing the incredible depth the Cottagers possess on the bench. To be able to bring on players of the quality of Kamara and Fonte as third-choice attackers speaks volumes of Fulham’s impressive transfer dealings.
As the play-offs seem an increasingly likely destination for the London club, their strength in numbers may prove incredibly useful in the notoriously tough competition for promotion.