Kevin Keegan got a mixed reception during his final game at Craven Cottage – with some Fulham fans booing the man who promised to stay at Craven Cottage before committing to England on a full time basis – but the departing Paul Moody stole the show with a superb hat-trick in the space of twelve minutes against Preston North End.
The popular forward was making only his second game in eight months after badly breaking his leg but scripted the perfect send off on his last appearance before being released this summer. The beanpole striker will have plenty of suitors after he tormented the North End defence on a day of rancour by the River Thames, with Keegan claiming he was advised by Fulham’s manager director Neil Rodford to stay away as the club couldn’t guarantee his safety.
Defences dominated during a first half that was devoid of quality but Keegan, who gave his championship winners’ medal to long-serving confidant Frank Sibley, changed the complexion of a dour contest by bringing on Moody for the ineffectual Dirk Lehmann at the start of the second half. The Cottage cult hero broke the deadlock by powerfully heading home Rufus Brevett’s floated cross.
He powerful dispatched a penalty after the marauding Barry Hayles was pole-axed in the penalty area and completed his hat-trick fourteen minutes from time with another emphatic header from Steve Hayward’s free-kick to send the home supporters into ecstacy.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; J. Smith (Uhlenbeek 80), Brevett, Symons, Coleman; N. Smith (S. McAnespie 80), Morgan, W. Collins, Hayward; Hayles, Lehmann (Moody 45).
GOALS: Moody (63, pen 75, 78).
PRESTON NORTH END (5-3-2): Moilanen; Gregan, Jackson, Murdock, Kidd, Alexander; Appleton, McKenna, Rankine; Harris (Basham 54), Macken. Subs (not used): Darby, McGregor.
REFEREE: Paul Danson (Leicestershire).
Moody completed his hat-trick two minutes later, heading in Hayward’s free kick to send the 17,176 crowd wild with delight.