Fulham’s first home game of their surge to the Second Division title last season saw Kevin Keegan’s side sweep Manchester City aside on a fabulous Friday evening in front of the television cameras. The England head coach has been replaced by Paul Bracewell, whose football is much more structured than his predecessor, and the early suggestions are that the Cottage faithful may not enjoy such exhilarating fare this term.

The Whites might have been more defensively minded after surrendering a two-goal lead at Birmingham City last week, but that was caused by the sending off of Geoff Horsfield rather than an kamikaze approach. The result was a rather scrappy affair and Manchester City didn’t exactly offer much guile or enterprise, even if Joe Royle’s side strangely looked much more dangerous once they had been reduced to ten men following the controversial sending off of skipper Andy Morrison, who came off worst after sparking a spat with Stan Collymore.

Perversely, City’s best chances came after they were reduced to 10 men with the sending-off midway through the second half of their burly captain, Andy Morrison. His second yellow card followed a brief spat with Stan Collymore, who betrayed a lack of match practice on his home League debut for Fulham. “He was allegedly sent off for sticking his tongue down another player’s throat,” said the City manager, Joe Royle. “He must have a tongue like Red Rum.”

The Aston Villa loanee appears to have struck up a strong understanding with Horsfield up front even if he still looks short of match sharpness. He did test Nicky Weaver after a purposeful run and curling shot but it was the physical Horsfield who caused problems for City’s defence throughout. Lee Clark and Sean Davis snapped into tackles in central midfield, with the former looking a likely source of opener with a series of defence-splitting passes. Horsfield headed the best chance that Fulham fashioned wide of goal after a strong run from Steve Finnan and, although the home side threatened again once Paul Peschisolido was introduced from the bench with eighteen minutes to go, City spurned good chances to take home all three points.

Royle had appeared content to settle for a point for much of a contest where City were far from ambitious. But they might have stolen all three with better finishing. The away fans offered several renditions of ‘Feed the Goat and he will score’ but Shaun Goater somehow missed the target on the stretch from close range after a deep cross from Paul Dickov. Moments later, the Scottish striker was denied by a superb reflex save from Maik Taylor when he headed a right-wing cross towards goal. Both sides in the end had to make do with a share of the spoils.

FULHAM (5-3-2): M. Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Morgan, Coleman; Davis, Hughes (Peschisolido 72), Clark; Horsfield, Collymore. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Symons, Hayward, Trollope.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Weaver; Crooks, Tiatto, Wiekens, Morrison; Pollock, Whitley, Kennedy (Vaughan 70), Bishop; Goater, Dickov. Subs (not used): Wright, Cooke, G. Taylor, Allsopp.

BOOKED: Whitley, Dickov, Morrison.

SENT OFF: Morrison (69).

REFEREE: Paul Rejer (Leamington Spa).