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Match Report - Fulham 2 Leeds 0

last updated Saturday 13th March 2004, 6:42 PM

Fulham midfielders Sean Davis and Luis Boa Morte saved Fulham boss Chris Coleman from 90 minutes of frustration as they got the goals which shoved rock-bottom Leeds closer to the relegation precipice.

Fulham midfielder Sean Davis
Fulham midfielder Sean Davis sets the ball rolling for The Cottagers victory

Coleman, back at work after a fortnight's treatment for the blood disorder septicaemia, was an irritated radio listener to the 2-1 defeat at Manchester United last Saturday because his television broke just before the game.

The manager was set for another afternoon of frustration today, this time in the Loftus Road dug-out, as Boa Morte, Barry Hayles and Steed Malbranque all missed wonderful chances.

But Davis and Boa Morte finally made Fulham's dominance pay as they struck with a 70th-minute shot and an 80th-minute header, respectively, to clinch this 2-0 win.

Earlier, Boa Morte was put clean-through by Sylvain Legwinski's long ball in the 41st minute but dallied and shot straight at Paul Robinson.

Hayles produced a contender for miss-of-the-season after the break, missing a simple header from just five yards when totally unmarked.

And Malbranque, normally so reliable in front of goal, dragged wide mid-way through the second period.

But Davis fired home 20 minutes from time and Boa Morte made sure 10 minutes later as Fulham won for the first time in six weeks.

For Leeds, whose mini-revival was brought to a swift halt in west London, manager Eddie Gray now has just 10 games in which to save his basement boys from relegation to Division One.

Coleman carried through his threat to axe his misfiring stars and dropped Alain Goma and Brian McBride after their poor showings in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Manchester United. Ian Pearce and Hayles were restored to the starting 11.

Gray's men were bidding to continue their recent improvement in form which had seen them draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford and at home to Liverpool.

Coleman's side had a clear opening at the half-way point in the first period.

Hayles made a nuisance of himself in the box and Luis Boa Morte latched on to the loose ball before hooking an awkward shot over the top.

Fulham centre-back Pearce was in the right place at the right time to block Smith's shot after his powerful surge into the box.

At the other end, Gary Kelly's weak header back to Paul Robinson was intercepted by Boa Morte, who skipped around the keeper but took the ball wide of goal.

Match Stats Fulham Leeds
Goals 2 0
Goal attempts 19 9
On Target 10 6
Offsides 2 5
Corners 4 7
Fouls 14 13
Yellows 4 3
Reds 0 0
source: sporting life

Portuguese international Boa Morte had by far the game's clearest chance four minutes before the break but, after racing on to Legwinski's long ball upfield, he scuffed a weak shot straight at Robinson.

Gray's basement dwellers almost grabbed a freak opener early in the second half but Didier Domi's bouncing volley from Pennant's far-post corner was clawed away by Edwin van der Sar.

The Londoners created a great chance of their own in the 50th minute but Robinson bravely saved twice in quick succession from Pembridge.

The United keeper was left completely exposed four minutes later but the completely unmarked Hayles did him a favour by heading wide from a Pembridge corner when just four yards out.

There was no end in sight to Fulham's penalty box profligacy, with Boa Morte losing possession when in an excellent shooting position 12 yards out.

Malbranque was the next guilty party, dragging a shot harmlessly wide.

But Sean Davis showed his team-mates how it was done with a classy opening goal after 70 minutes.

The midfielder played a neat one-two with Malbranque and smacked a 16-yard strike into the bottom left corner.

Fulham doubled their lead 10 minutes from time when the Leeds defence went AWOL.

Pembridge returned a half-cleared free-kick into the danger zone and Zat Knight crossed for Boa Morte to beat two of his team-mates to the ball and nod into the net.

Leeds wasted late chances to score, with Seth Johnson shooting straight at Van der Sar and his namesake, substitute Simon Johnson, hitting the bar from close range with the last kick of the game.

Man of the match - Sylvain Legwinski Man of the match - Sylvain LegwinskiFulham have been using the French midfielder in a holding role in front of the back four all season. He has been the backbone to memorable performances at Old Trafford and Highbury. And once again he was the unsung hero in a win that put Fulham's season back on track. He does the simple things well but he also has the ability to continually free up other players to do most of the damage.
source=News of the World by Matt Driscoll

Fulham Van der Sar, Volz, Knight, Pearce, Green, Malbranque, Legwinski, Pembridge, Sean Davis, Boa Morte, Hayles (McBride 86).

Subs Not Used: Crossley, Inamoto, Djetou, Petta.

Booked: Legwinski(31,f), Green(38,f), Volz(53,f), Boa Morte(90,ub).

Goals: Sean Davis 71, Boa Morte 83.

Leeds Robinson, Kelly, Caldwell, Matteo, Domi, Pennant, McPhail, Seth Johnson, Milner (Simon Johnson 76), Smith, Viduka.

Subs Not Used: Carson, Harte, Olembe, Richardson.

Booked: Pennant, Domi, Caldwell.

Att: 17,104

Ref: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

Source PA Sport by Alistair Grant
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