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Fulham foiled - Sunday People

last updated Sunday 08th April 2001, 8:46 AM
Lee Clark claimed Fulham's first-half performance was their worst of the season after they had been blunted by battling Albion.

The runaway leaders failed to score at home for only the second time during their fabulously successful promotion campaign and were happy to settle for a point.

Albion, quicker and sharper, had by far the better of the first half and Fulham knew they had to step up the pace to make any impression.

"That first-half display was just not good enough," said Clark. "As well as moving up a gear we also had to work harder than at any other time this season because we kept giving the ball away.

"It was a very quiet dressing-room afterwards and all the lads were disappointed.

"But you have to accept that on occasions you will have to dig out a result and at least we didn't lose.

"Our passing was nowhere near to its usual standard. But let's give some credit to West Brom, who made things very difficult for us.

"They have a lot at stake, with a place in the play-offs to aim for, and they did their job exceptionally well."

Amazingly, Albion boss Gary Megson brushed aside congratulations offered to him after the match because he felt his team did not deserve the plaudits.

"We did not achieve what we set out to do, because we came here to win," said Megson.

"We did not man-mark Lee Clark, as so many other teams had done. We did not overload the midfield and play with just one up and we didn't try to kick them off the park.

"Everyone knows the skill this Fulham team possess. They're in a class of their own, but today they also worked as hard as anyone we have played this season." And, as Clark explained, Fulham had to do that to get the ball back after giving it away so much. Fulham are so used to having things their own way they gave the impression they could win it as they liked early on.

But Albion, busy and eager, did not allow them to settle and made sure that Jean Tigana's men did not manage a shot on target in the first half.

Megson was spot on when he said: "They had plenty of possession, but did nothing to hurt us and seemed to run out of ideas."

Albion had the best chance in the first half when Bob Taylor clipped the outside of a post with a first-time effort. He also had two headers saved by his namesake in the Fulham goal, Maik Taylor. But Fulham were much more positive in the second half and Albion had to dig in and defend hard.

They did the job well with Phil Gilchrist and Tony Butler outstanding and keeper Russell Hoult defying the home attack.

Hoult, a spectator for the entire first half, came to the rescue after the break with brilliant saves from Clark, twice, Sean Davis and Karlheinz Riedle.

FULHAM: M Taylor 7 - Finnan 7, Melville 6, Symons 6, Brevett 7 - Stolcers (wdrn) 6, *CLARK 8, Davis 6, Collins (wdrn) 6 - Hayles 6, Saha 6. Subs: Goldbaek 6, Riedle 7.

WEST BROM: *HOULT 8 - Butler 7, Gilchrist 7, Clement 7 - Lyttle 7, Appleton 7, Jordao (inj) 6, Sneekes 7, van Blerk 7 - R Taylor (wdrn) 7, Hughes 7. Subs: Chambers 7, Roberts 7. Ref: M Messias 6.
Source Sunday People
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