Captain Chris Coleman sent Fulham to the Second Division summit after his late header proved enough to win a tight tussle at Preston North End this afternoon.

The Whites were indebted to goalkeeper Maik Taylor for making two magnificent saves to keep Kevin Keegan’s promotion contenders in the contest at Deepdale. The Northern Ireland international was at full stretch to deny Lee Cartwright after the winger had robbed Rufus Brevett of possession and charged towards goal before his 20-yard effort was deflected towards the top corner. Taylor also blocked a close range effort from substitute Darren Byfield as North End pressed for an opener.

Fulham had chances too with Geoff Horsfield and Paul Peschisolido both twice denied by Preston goalkeeper David Lucas. It was substitute Barry Hayles who unlocked the home defence when he latched onto a long ball from Rufus Brevett and chipped a cross up for Coleman to head home at the back post with nine minutes remaining.

PRESTON NORTH END (5-3-2): Lucas; Jackson, Gregan, Kidd, Ludden (Appleton 26), Parkinson; Darby (Mackin 86), Rankine, Cartwright; Nogan (Byfield 53), Harris.

BOOKED: Rankine.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Bracewell (Finnan 68), Morgan, Smith, Hayward; Horsfield, Peschisolido (Hayles 75). Subs (not used): Lehmann.

BOOKED: Uhlenbeek, Smith.

GOAL: Coleman (81).

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REFEREE: Clive Wilkes (West Midlands).


FULHAM leapt to the top of the Second Division with skipper Chris Coleman hitting a late goal to make it 1-0 at Preston.

Fulham keeper Taylor had earlier made two great saves.