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Fulham stroll to victory - S. Times

last updated Sunday 15th September 2002, 9:32 PM
Sunderland (0) 0- 3 (1) Fulham
Just when Peter Reid felt it might be safe to stick his head above the parapet, his side produced the kind of inept display which, if repeated regularly, results in a manager soon being acquainted with his P45.

Fulham strolled to their first top-flight win on Wearside in half a century after being given the upper hand by the excellent Junichi Inamoto’s sixth goal of the season, towards the end of the first half.

  Fulham striker  Steve Marlet  
  Fulham striker scores Fulham's third goal against Sunderland
A Barry Hayles goal with Sunderland on the ropes early in the second period only added to personal abuse aimed at Reid from home supporters. Many had to be restrained as their frustrations boiled over and chants of “Reid out” echoed around a rapidly emptying stadium.

If only Reid’s players had shown the same kind of passion, the situation faced this morning by the beleaguered Liverpudlian might not be so gloomy. Rarely can a Reid side have shown such a collective lack of commitment, especially in front of their own supporters, and this, more than the desperate defending and toothless forward play, will have caused the manager to lose sleep last night.

The ferocity of the supporters’ onslaught was merely intensified by Steve Marlet’s break-away effort 12 minutes from time, the move stemming from another telling Inamoto through ball. It was Sunderland’s heaviest defeat at the Stadium of Light, played out before their smallest Premiership crowd.

The £10m arrival of Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart a fortnight ago, in addition to a fortunate win at Leeds, seemed to have bought Reid valuable breathing space from the mounting criticism his reign has come under in the past six months.

But with Kevin Phillips out after a hernia operation for six weeks, the new, badly disjointed forward pairing clearly need an opportunity to gel.

However, with a trip to Newcastle on the horizon, time is short for the Sunderland manager, who has just four wins all year and without a home win for approaching six months.

Not even the desperate late introduction of Niall Quinn could stem the tide, with the hosts’ hopeful punts easily gobbled up by an impressive Fulham back four who will earn few more simple win bonuses.Fulham will garner three points no more easily than this, their first Premiership away victory of the season. It was embarrassingly one-sided.

“I told my players to keep the ball as much as they could to frustrate the crowd,” explained Jean Tigana, the Fulham manager. “We were a little fortunate early on, but we got ourselves organised and this was a very important result for us.”

Just before the half-hour mark Reid made his way down to the touchline, in time to witness his side’s most impressive performer, Matt Piper, come closest to breaking the deadlock. He sprinted in from his position down the right to send a diving header goalwards from Tommy Butler’s inviting cross, only to see Edwin van der Sar punch the ball to safety with a slightly theatrical save.

Piper also provided a constant string of menacing crosses, although the majority were headed to safety by Fulham’s 6ft 6in central defender Zat Knight.
Match Stats S'Land Fulham
Goal attempts 7 5
On Target 5 4
Fouls 10 13
Corners 11 6
Yellows 2 2
Reds 0 0
source: www.sportinglife.com

Fulham had looked neat but not too threatening until they broke the deadlock 11 minutes before the interval. A cross from the left by full-back Rufus Brevett should have been routinely cleared, but Hayles managed to flick the ball back to the unmarked Inamoto, who shot home from 15 yards.

Fulham were visibly lifted by the goal, and their task was made much easier by Sunderland’s reluctance to play anything but simple passes as they came under pressure from an increasingly frustrated home support, the dissatisfaction of many soon turning to jeers.

The situation went from bad to worse for the hosts nine minutes after the restart when Hayles was rewarded for his sterling efforts up front with a deserved goal. Again Fulham profited from poor defending, this time from error-prone goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, whose weak mistimed clearance fell invitingly for Inamoto inside the centre circle.

The midfielder’s instant pass released Hayles, who easily held off Stephen Wright’s weak challenge to slot the ball under the advancing keeper.

Sunderland: Sorensen, Wright, Bjorklund, Babb, Gray, Piper, McAteer (McCann 55min), Reyna, Butler (Quinn 55min), Stewart, Flo

Fulham: Van der Sar, Ouaddou, Goma, Knight, Brevett, Legwinski, Davis, Inamoto (Collins 86min), Malbranque, Marlet, Hayles (Sava 76min)

Scorers: Fulham: Inamoto 34, Hayles 54, Marlet 78

Referee: C Foy Att: 35,432
Source S. Times by Jason Mellor
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