Little Shaun Murray headed Notts County’s winner as they ended Fulham’s unbeaten start to the season with a performance full of courage and commitment at Meadow Lane this afternoon.
Murray’s tireless running was matched by a magnificent display by County’s Welsh international goalkeeper Darren Ward, who made a series of superb saves to frustrate Kevin Keegan’s expensively assembled side. Ward demonstrated just why Bobby Gould has included him in his squad despite playing Second Division football with a splendid double save to deny Dirk Lehmann when the German sprinted through on the County goal – and the hosts capitalised on their good fortune immediately at the other end.
The County faithful were still catching their breath when Sam Allardyce’s side launched a swift counter-attack that saw the impressive Steve Finnan switch the play out to Ian Hendon, who whipped in an excellent cross and the 5ft 5in Murray leapt between the Fulham defenders to head the winner past Maik Taylor right on the stroke of half time.
Fulham pushed for an equaliser but were left frustrated at the final whistle. Even when young striker Lucas Cornwall, summoned off the bench by Keegan, beat Ward he was denied by a debut goal by some fantastic defending from Hendon, who scrambled the ball off the line heroically.
NOTTS COUNTY (5-3-2): Ward; Finnan, Strodder, Fairclough, Hendon, Liburd; Murray, Owers, Billy; Quayle (Hughes 65), Jones (Jackson 85). Subs (not used): Dyer.
GOAL: Murray (45).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Bracewell, Morgan, Hayward (Davis 85), W. Collins; Lehmann, Beardsley (Cornwall 74). Subs (not used): Neilson.
BOOKED: Hayward, Lehmann.
REFEREE: Roy Pearson (Peterlee)