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Match Report - Everton 1 Fulham 0

last updated Sunday 21st November 2004, 2:23 PM

Duncan Ferguson produced his supersub act to claim victory for Everton, who are intent on making European football a reality regardless of what the rest of the top flight think.

Fulham striker Tomasz Radzinski
Fulham striker Tomasz Radzinski went close against his old club but not close enough

The giant Scot broke the deadlock and defiant Fulham's hearts with a close-range header as Everton clawed their unrelenting way towards their goal.

This was their sixth 1-0 win of the season and Nigel Martyn's seventh clean sheet in his 800th career appearance.

And none of those statistics will surprise anyone who has witnessed the organised, efficient transformation in Everton's fortunes this season.

They are firmly in third spot, despite Middlesbrough's defeat of Liverpool, and their tried and tested tactics - although never pretty - are proving hugely successful as they harbour genuine ambitions of playing amongst Europe's elite next season.

Both sides kept unchanged teams, with Fulham having three former Evertonians in their side. Mark Pembridge and substitute Brian McBride got rousing receptions but poor Tomasz Radzinski was booed every time he got anywhere near the ball.

The Canadian had upset fans with his attacks on boss David Moyes and the team's fortunes as well as insisting that Wayne Rooney's career would be better off away from the club just prior to his summer transfer to Fulham.

Everton fans also had some venom for Luis Boa Morte, who was involved in an incident with David Weir a couple of seasons ago that ended with FA charges.

As for the match, Fulham were intent on holding possession at the back and taking the pace and sting out of Everton's play. The hosts prefer a high tempo, hounding style and they were denied that opportunity for long spells.

Once Everton got hold of the ball in midfield, largely through Thomas Gravesen, they slowly started to put their game together. But only a couple of half chances early on fell the way of Marcus Bent.

Radzinski was prepared to fight through the storm of abuse coming his way, and when he was put in on the right of the box from a Steed Malbranque pass he spun to fire across goal and just wide of the far post.

Bent had a long range effort blocked, before Leon Osman found space for a chipped cross that Tim Cahill headed fractionally over.

But from Fulham's first on-target effort of the half, they almost took the lead. And it was no surprise that it was Radzinski who forced an outstanding point-blank save from Nigel Martyn on 40 minutes following a Pembridge cross from the left.

Then Mark Crossley got in on the act with a fine tip over from an Osman header after Alessandro Pistone's cross had reached the youngster 12 yards out. But there was little on show to warm the freezing fans.

Everton's tempo increased instantly after the break and from their first attack, Gravesen lifted a cross to beyond the far post and Kilbane saw a looping header drop just wide of the far post.

Match Stats Everton Fulham
Goals 1 0
Possession 55% 45%
Goal attempts 13 6
On Target 7 4
Corners 12 7
Fouls 11 24
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: soccernet

But Fulham, too, looked more positive and it took a six-yard box block from Bent following a half-cleared corner to keep out a low Malbranque drive.

But Everton started to turn the screw and Bent chased down the left before producing a fine cross that saw Cahill send in a powerful header that Crossley saved well to his right.

Bent then fired in a 20-yarder that Crossley tipped over the angle, with Everton soon replacing Osman with Duncan Ferguson on 62 minutes.

And they got their breakthrough four minutes later following a corner conceded by Radzinski. Gravesen curled the ball into the box and Kilbane saw a fine header pushed out by Crossley only for Ferguson to duck low to nod into the bottom corner.

But Cole almost took advantage of some dreadful defending when he chased a long ball. At first the Fulham man mishit his hook badly, but nobody moved and he was able to regain possession and have another go. That was also half blocked by Martyn, and eventually the ball was hacked behind in the scramble that followed.

Bent, who had produced another Trojan display of graft and running, was taken off with seven minutes to go and replaced by Steve Watson. Four minutes later James McFadden replaced Gravesen, who had picked up a leg injury.

A minute from time Radzinski picked up a lose ball in the box and fired in a low drive that flashed inches wide of the far post. It was that close.

Everton Martyn, Hibbert, Stubbs, Weir, Pistone, Osman (Ferguson 62), Gravesen (McFadden 88), Carsley, Cahill, Kilbane, Bent (Watson 83).

Subs Not Used: Wright, Yobo.

Goals: Ferguson 67.

Fulham Crossley, Volz, Knight, Rehman, Bocanegra, Radzinski, Diop (McBride 81), Malbranque, Pembridge, Boa Morte (Legwinski 54), Cole.

Subs Not Used: Van der Sar, Hammond, Pearce.

Booked: Diop (39,f).

Att: 34,763

Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

Source Sporting Life
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