Although Fulham’s four-month unbeaten run continued on Saturday afternoon, a late goal conceded to Brentford made the 1-1 draw feel like a loss.
The Whites have just three games remaining in the Championship season, and a gutsy response is needed in order to keep their promotion push alive.
Fulham were surprisingly nervy and flat against the Bees, and in all truth, the draw flattered the home side.
Brentford were denied what appeared to be a clear penalty, had a number of good chances marginally called offside, and harassed the Whites all match.
Fulham went ahead through talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic with just twenty minutes to go but failed to kill off the game, allowing for pressure to build and Brentford to strike late on.
The 94th-minute equaliser brought a sickening feeling to Craven Cottage that had not been felt for many a month, but there is no time for Fulham to languish in disappointment.
Three cup finals await, and if the Whites are to stand any chance of automatic promotion, they must win all three. Millwall, Sunderland, and Birmingham City beckon for the Cottagers; their season truly rests on these final league matches.
Not only is it important to end the season strong in order to keep the pressure on Cardiff, Fulham must also keep up momentum if they are to finish outside the top two. If they can’t close the gap to the Bluebirds in second, a strong run going into the play-offs will be imperative for confidence.
Nonetheless, all hope is not lost for automatic promotion just yet. If Fulham win all three of their remaining matches, they will go up in second, if Cardiff draw two and win two.
Cardiff still have to travel to play-off chasing Derby County in their game in hand and, although their other three matches are against teams in the bottom eight, Hull City away will be a tough task.
The Tigers have recently drawn Wolves and Aston Villa, as well as thrashing Burton 5-0 and QPR 4-0. If Hull and Derby can muster a result against Cardiff, then Fulham will control second place.
This dream is still a long way off. The Whites need to show resolve and steel in bouncing back from their derby day heartbreak; their promotion hopes depend on it.