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Fulham win another Championship

last updated Tuesday 08th May 2001, 5:24 PM
Fulham reserves are Champions as well
Fulham reserves are Avon Insurance Combination League Champions 2000/2001
With Fulham needing only one point to secure the Avon Insurance Combination League championship, a healthy crowd gathered at Motspur Park in anticipation of more silverware.

The match started with Fulham playing some typically incisive football. As early as the fourth minute Hammond, Willock and Peschisolido conspired to work the ball across Brighton's defensive line and feed a pass into the path of Betsy. Unfortunately for Fulham, Betsy's effort was well saved by Packham in the Brighton goal.

With the Seagulls not passing the ball as fluently as Fulham, the Whites were able to dominate possession in the opening exchanges.

A major thorn in the Brighton defence was Paul Peschisolido who was today playing just behind the front two. Constantly available, Peschisolido was playing some telling passes along with his customarily tricky ball skills.

Fulham took the lead on 12 minutes after Elvis Hammond was put through and calmly slipped the ball past Packham. Apparently overrun, Brighton offered little in the way of attacking invention and it was not long before Fulham doubled the lead.

Following an unconvincing clearance from a Fulham free kick, Brighton allowed themselves to get drawn into a goalmouth scramble which resulted in Kevin Betsy looping the ball over the goalkeeper.

Despite the fact that over a quarter of the match had passed, there were very few signs that the game had settled down. Only minutes after having gone behind for the second time, Brighton managed to create an opening on the left-hand side. The subsequent cross was tapped in by the onrushing Brighton attacker.

As the first half progressed, Peschisolido showed little sign of relenting in his efforts to create chances for both Willock and Hammond - who were looking equally impressive upfront.

The watching crowd didn't have to wait long for the fourth goal of the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, it was build up play from Willock and Hammond which did the damage.

Having received the ball from Hammond, Willock swiftly turned on the edge of the penalty box, wrongfooting Brighton's defence to finish with style.

Credit must be given to Brighton who, despite having gone behind three times, still stuck to their task and once again, managed to catch Fulham with a sucker punch to make the score 3-2.

Brighton’s second goal was scored amid serious suspicions of offside however. As a diagonal ball was played in to the edge of the six-yard box, the Fulham back line pushed up in anticipation of the pass. Nevertheless, as the Brighton forward brought the ball under control, it became apparent that the linesman was not going to flag. With the defence caught out of position, scoring was a mere formality.

Just before the first half came to a close, Willock was fouled by the Brighton keeper. Although he stayed on his feet, once the advantage had been played and nothing came of it, the referee pointed to the spot. Keiron McAnespie easily slotted the penalty home.

The second half was a far less entertaining affair in terms of goalmouth action, as is often the case in such high-scoring matches.

Brighton came out in a more resolute frame of mind, and managed to hold firm for longer periods when under pressure. Additionally, due to the temperature on the pitch, the game was played at much slower pace.

With Brighton now enjoying their first few major spells of possession and exerting pressure on Fulham's defence, a further goal for Seagulls looked to be on the cards. However, with Simon Morgan and Alan Nielson superbly marshalling the back line - chances were kept to a minimum.

Kevin Betsy then made the score 5-2 after he intercepted a pass in midfield and set course for goal. His mazy run finished well inside the Brighton penalty area with a sweetly struck left foot shot, which flew into the net.

The scoring was concluded with only minutes to go. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, substitute Eddie McClements hit a spectacular shot with the outside of his foot. Unluckily for him, the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced down for Luke Cornwall to pounce on.

The victory also meant that Fulham were crowned champions of the Avon Insurance Combination League. Captain Alan Neilson was later presented with the trophy which ended a successful season for the Steve Kean’s first year in charge.

Fulham: Antony Tucker, Wayne Collins, Paul Trollope, Simon Morgan, Alan Neilson (C), Zat Knight, Kevin Betsy, Paul Peschisolido, Calum Willock, Elvis Hammond, Kieran McAnespie

Subs: Mark Hudson, Ross Flitney, Tom Hutchinson, Eddie McClements, Luke Cornwall
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