Etheridge satisfied with Fulham debut

by Edward Lao, ABS-CBN News Europe Bureau

Posted at Dec 20 2011 02:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 21 2011 01:23 AM

LONDON -- Philippine Azkals first choice goal keeper Neil Etheridge is happy with his performance in his senior debut for Fulham FC last week, in the club's Europa League clash against Danish outfit Odense BK.

Around 15,700 fans flocked to Craven Cottage to watch the game, while Filipinos across the globe tuned in to watch Etheridge make his first start for the club.

"For a debut, I was quite happy. Considering it's my first full game in a Fulham jersey, I thought I played well," Etheridge said.

Etheridge was given the starting goal keeper spot after an injury to first choice goal keeper Mark Schwarzer.

Fulham needed a win to ensure progression in the tournament, and looked as if they were on track to achieving that as they headed in at halftime with a 2-nil lead courtesy of Clint Dempsey (27th minute) and Kerim Frei (31st minute).

But Odense clawed back in the second half to salvage a 2-2 draw and break Fulham's hearts. The equalizing goal came at the last action of the game, arriving in the 3rd minute of injury time.

"I was happy with my personal performance," Etheridge said. "But it's a team sport and we were unable to produce a result."

The loss meant that Fulham is now eliminated from the Europa League.

Etheridge made some commanding catches during the game and tipped a low shot behind from a corner.

Learning experience

Despite those positives, Etheridge admitted he is responsible for Odense's first goal, which came via a free kick from Hans Henrik Adreasen on the edge of the Fulham penalty box (64th minute).

"Their first goal was down to me, I hold my hand up. It was a mistake that went down to not having enough experience, but it won't happen again," Etheridge promised. "I learn from mistakes."

Etheridge said Odense played the free kick "quite clever and moved the ball just before they hit it."

Before the free-kick was taken, Odense managed to move the ball a yard from its original spot without the referee noticing. The result was Fulham's defensive wall was no longer properly aligned, and one side of the goal was more exposed than before.

Future appearances

With Schwarzer out of action for up to 6 weeks, Fulham manager Martin Jol has recalled goal keeper David Stockdale, who was on loan at Ipswich Town FC.

Stockdale will now fill the void in the first team, while Etheridge provides cover during Schwarzer's absence.

It is unclear when Etheridge will feature for Fulham again, but until then, the 21-year-old Filipino-Brit promises to remain patient and focused.

"To have an England international you're competing against (Stockdale) and an excellent goal keeper like Mark Schwarzer, it's never easy, but I'll just have to keep my head down and keep working," he said.

"Hopefully, the manager will see this and when I get the chance, I'll take it with both hands and try to impress."