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Fulham miss out - S.Times

last updated Monday 02nd December 2002, 9:31 AM
Blackburn 2 (1) Fulham 1 (0)
S. Times by Louise Taylor

Fulham — who had a penalty saved — pushed Blackburn hard in a game to please the purists. Perhaps galvanised by the presence of a potential new striker in the stands, Blackburn Rovers roused themselves sufficiently to record their first Premiership win in five. Even so, it was always touch and go

Fulham midfielder Sean Davis
Fulham midfielder Sean Davis worked hard in the midfield
Hakan Sukur, the Turkey striker expected to sign for Blackburn in the next day or two, looked on from the directors’ box and, watching one appalling first-half miss from Andrew Cole, must fancy his chances of walking straight into Graeme Souness’s team. A couple of yards out, Cole misfired after connecting with a low, high-speed cross from David Thompson.

Otherwise, Fulham goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar was merely twice tested from long range during the early stages by David Dunn, taking time out from his duel with Sean Davis.

Theirs was a subplot shaded by Dunn and, as if to emphasise this, he played in Damien Duff with an incisive pass from which the Irishman fed Dwight Yorke. Hardly prolific in an underwhelming Rovers career to date, Yorke for once reminded his pal Cole how to score, slipping the ball beyond Van der Sar. The preamble to the goal encapsulated all that is best about a Rovers side who had recently lost their way.

Not to be outdone, Fulham upped their tempo and almost equalised at the end of a seven-man move, Sylvain Legwinski mis-chipping a highly inviting close-range opportunity.

The second half began with Luis Boa Morte prompting a fine save from Brad Friedel following Lee Clark’s superb through-ball. No matter. Boa Morte set up Fulham’s leveller, back-heeling for Steve Marlet to shoot home, avoiding Lucas Neill’s desperate lunge.

Next, Craig Short felled Boa Morte in the area, only for the impressive Friedel to repel Marlet’s ensuing penalty. “Brad does that all the time; he saves 50 per cent of penalties in training,” said Souness.

It was evidently Blackburn’s day because, within minutes, Van der Sar parried Yorke’s header from Duff’s cross and the ball richocheted into the net off the horrified Rufus Brevett.

Blackburn: Friedel; Neill, Short, Todd, Johansson; Thompson, Dunn (Douglas 89min), Tugay, Duff; Cole, Yorke
Fulham: Van der Sar; Finnan, Melville, Goma, Brevett; Legwinski, Davis, Clark (Inamoto 59min), Malbranque; Boa Morte, Marlet
Scorers: Blackburn: Yorke 35, Brevett og 77 Fulham: Marlet 60

Referee: P Dowd
Attendance: 21,096
Source S. Times by Louise Taylor
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