Fulham had waited thirteen hours to score a league goal when they were awarded a penalty against West Bromwich Albion this afternoon. As Barry Hayles, the man who was deemed to have been fouled by Jason van Blerk in what can only be described as a generous award, told the press afterwards. “I stood there with Lee Clark and Karlheinz Riedle, two Englishmen and a German. Who do you think was going to take the penalty?” Riedle, a scorer in a World Cup semi-final shoot out against England in 1990, duly delivered to reduce some of the pressure on a beleaguered Paul Bracewell.
This was only Fulham’s second win in nine league outings and Bracewell, who has had to live with illustrious names being linked with his job since being appointed the club’s successor to Kevin Keegan in the summer, had been feeling the pressure after his side were booed following a home defeat to Grimsby a fortnight ago. Last week, saw press reports linking Eric Cantona with the position he still occupies. Fulham don’t set pulses racing in the manner of a Keegan team and there is a feeling, rumoured to be shared by chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed, that the managerial novice has rather squandered his inheritence.
Neither Fulham or the Baggies, who have now gone fourteen games within a win, looked like troubling the scorers in a pedestrian first half and, even the penalty award, that forced Albion to come and play in search of an equaliser didn’t really enliven a forgettable contest. Lee Hughes should have levelled for the visitors when he was put through on goal late on – but much to Bracewell’s relief the usually reliable West Brom striker fired wide. Fulham’s latest manager lives to fight another day.
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Finnan, Phelan (W. Collins 76), Morgan, Melville, Symons; Ball, Clark, Goldbaek; Riedle (Peschisolido 80), Hayles. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Davis, Hayward.
BOOKED: Ball, Melville.
GOAL: Riedle (pen 48).
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (5-3-2): Adamson; Carbon, Potter (Angel 76), Sigurdsson, Chambers (Raven 85), van Blerk; Flynn, Sneekes, Oliver (Evans 55); Hughes, Quinn. Subs (not used): Miller, McDermott.
BOOKED: Carbon, Sigurdsson, Hughes.
REFEREE: Chris Foy (St. Helens).