Verdict: Sickening Fulham defeat will give Parker sleepless nights

Aleksandar Mitrovic’s third goal of the season was but a fleeting fancy Fulham would finally escape the relegation places.

The gift that was a poor pass back from Tyrone Mings was gratefully gobbled up by Mitro.

But then Whites eased off the throttle.

Aston Villa sensed their chance and were given more than a helping hand to a 3-1 win: the second time this season they’ve hit three against Scott Parker’s side.

A massive blow, because Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a fine game until he made way for Josh Maja near the end.

He looked a yard quicker than recent games, and his drive showed his commitment to the cause.

The loss of Ademola Lookman to an injury straight after half-time hardly helped, but it had nothing to do with the sudden turnaround from 1-0 up to 3-1 down.

The Villa equaliser saw Fulham’s usually able defence sucked into the cross like schoolboys.

The ball was cut back by Mings, of all players, to leave Trezeguet the freedom of the box to lash home and into the corner.

But the second goal?

You have to feel sorry for Tosin.

The young defender was caught in possession, and although he’s had a great first season, he was also part of the blunder that let in Burnley for the equaliser in February.

If nothing else, he’s learned that a pair of nanosecond indecisions has cost his side two points at least.

The third goal from Ollie Watkins, when frankly the game had gone, was down to a Fulham defence that simply switched off.

It was equally criminal, but understandable having watched their lead surrendered in just three minutes.

First half let-off

Fulham looked as if they had got away with an early blunder.

Not so Super Mario Lemina had been blown up for a clumsy fouls before he put Fulham hearts in their mouths.

Staring into the middle distance with seconds to go of the first half and the ball at his feet five yards from his own goal was dumb.

The midfielder got away with it when his toe was deemed ahead of Watkins’ that ruled out the original penalty award.

Last seconds of the half? Put your laces through it, Mario!

I make that 3-1 to Fulham on contentious VAR calls. Parker wants rid of the technology; not so fast boss, for a while it looked as if was getting you out of jail.

Parker has predicted the next thing to go in football will be shinguards.

In fact, he supposes the tackle, as we know it, will be history in the next few years.

Judging by the two early yellow cards, he might be right.

Douglas Luiz’s trip on Loftus-Cheek was clumsy – nothing more.

But the shouldering off the ball by Joachim Andersen on John McGinn was a debatable even as a foul – never mind a card.

It’s getting to the stage where a harsh breath on an opponent gets you a foul

Note Bertrand Traore’s pathetic fall to the ground after 64 minutes when he threw the ball away and should have been booked.

But unless it’s shirt grabbing in the box, which is never punished, then it’s a foul every other brush of an arm.

New-look Fulham

Parker also reckoned his was an “evolving” side this week.

You can say that again!

Only four of the team that started in the 3-0 home defeat to Villa in September remained for the return fixture: Alphonse Areola, Mitrovic, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Kenny Tete, in case you wondered.

He also claims it would have taken time to get that side acclimatised to the “massive” difference of Championship and Premier League.

Time, the boss, clearly didn’t have.

One wonders about the fates of Michael Hector, Joe Bryan, Tim Ream and Denis Odoi, since reduced to bit parts?

If you were them, and wanting to stay with the club, maybe the best way forward is to again star in the second tier?

Time is running out for the favoured starters to get themselves out of jail.

If you surrender a lead for the 15th time this season, and have to depend on a dreadful mistake for a goal, it’s difficult to know where you go from here.

This defeat is going to keep Mr Parker awake for a few nights.