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Cottagers win at last

last updated Saturday 03rd November 2007, 9:13 PM
Simon Davies
Simon Davies gets the first
goal for Fulham

Fulham 3-1 Reading: Cottagers win at last - soccernet

Clint Dempsey and David Healy came up with late goals to clinch only the second Premier League win of the season for Fulham, who triumphed 3-1, and leave Reading still searching for their first success away from home.

Steve Coppell's side looked like doing it when suffocating pressure at the start of the second half brought Kevin Doyle's equaliser after Simon Davies had shot the home side in front early on.

But having thanked keeper Antti Niemi for a string of saves, Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez sent on substitute strikers Healy and the on-loan Shefki Kuqi to turn the tide - with American Dempsey profiting to end a six-match goal-drought.

However, Sanchez will not have been happy to see his young full-back Elliot Omozusi sent off in stoppage time for the second of two rugged but hardly malicious tackles.

Fulham, with two novice full-backs in debut-making Nathan Ashton and Omozusi who made his league bow against Sunderland last week, would have welcomed a win of any description after just one previously against Bolton in the opening week of the campaign.

Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey gets the
second goal for Fulham

Yet Sanchez's team started the match in 14th place, just one spot below their visitors - one of Sanchez's former clubs as a player - who did the double over them last term.

The opening exchanges were tediously scrappy. Both sides gave the ball away with regularity in a featureless first 10 minutes.

Fans had been treated to the rare sight of a fox sprinting across the pitch and away by the corner flag towards the river. It was quite some time before they saw a run of such quality again.

But Fulham, so pedestrian up to then, suddenly found their touch and went ahead through Davies on 17 minutes.

Dempsey's fierce shot was tipped around a post by the diving Marcus Hahnemann and some home fans groaned as Diomansy Kamara and Bouazza engineered a short corner ploy.

But eventually the cross was headed out by Reading striker Dave Kitson - only for Davies to size up the loose ball at the edge of the area before drilling it firm and true into the bottom corner. It was the Welsh international's second goal in a week and his third this season.

Fulham were massively encouraged by the breakthrough. Dempsey looked set to add a second goal until flagged offside from a Davies cross on 22 minutes. Hahnemann saved the shot in any case.

Bouazza and Kamara showed some guile and Steve Davis kept things ticking in midfield, but gradually Reading began to take a grip in midfield after Ibrahima Sonko and Michael Duberry repelled the second rush of home attacks.

David Healy
David Healy gets the
third goal for Fulham

However, despite Reading's possession for the rest of the half there was little end product. Kitson sent a fanciful overhead shot wide and Duberry and Leroy Lita both failed to direct headers on target from promising set-pieces.

How different after the break. Manager Steve Coppell's interval speech must have been a good one as Fulham's goal immediately came under siege.

Lita and Kitson were both clearly offside when the former got the final touch to net Duberry's leaping header and Stephen Hunt was unlucky to see his chip shot beat Niemi but also the crossbar.

Niemi earned his money with a fine save from Harper's smart free-kick after Omozusi was harshly booked for barging into Hunt, who then forced the keeper into another impressive stop.

But Fulham's marking failed from the subsequent corner and Doyle was allowed the freedom of the far post to head in his fourth goal of the season from Nicky Shorey's flag-kick.

Just when Fulham threatened to fold, though, Sanchez sent on substitute strikers Kuqi and Healy to turn the match on its head again.

After Dejan Stefanovic just about kept the ball in play to find Healy, the little Irishman - who had replaced £6million Kamara - put in a superb cross and although Kuqi's header was blocked, Dempsey was in the right place to scramble the ball in.

Healy finished it in the last minute, arriving on a breakaway to put away Davies' right-wing cross, but Omozusi's dismissal left a nasty taste, especially as he did not even appear to make contact with Shorey for the second offence.

Match Stats Fulham Reading
Goals 3 1
Possession 44% 56%
Goal attempts 9 15
On Target 7 6
Corners 8 9
Off-sides 5 2
Saves 6 4
Fouls 11 6
Yellows 3 0
Reds 1 0
source: Soccernet

Fulham: Niemi, Stefanovic, Omozusi, Ashton, Hughes, Davies, Murphy, Davis, Bouazza (Kuqi 60), Dempsey, Kamara (Healy 67).
Subs Not Used: Warner, Ki-Hyeon, Leijer.

Sent Off: Omozusi (90, There was some confusion over what decision the ref made, a second yellow or a straight red, if it is a straight red then it is a bad decision by Ref Clattenburg particularly after he gave a yellow to Kung-Fu Kuyt last week. The FA announced that it was a 2nd yellow even though no one saw the yellow.).

Booked: Stefanovic (35, f), Omozusi (51, f), Healy(83,f).

Davies 18, (Cross by Steven Davis to Simon Davies who hit the ball right-footed into the bottom-left of goal from the right side of the penalty area.)

Dempsey 72, (Cross by David Healy  ball headed into the bottom-left of the goal by Clinton Dempsey  from left side of six-yard box.)

Healy 90. (Cross by Simon Davies  from the right wing. David Healy right-footed into the bottom-left of the goal from the left side of the penalty area, 12 yards out.)

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Long 87), Duberry, Sonko, Shorey, Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Lita (Convey 76), Kitson, Doyle.
Subs Not Used: Federici, Ingimarsson, Rosenior.

Goals: Doyle 54.

Att: 22,086

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).


Source soccernet
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