A close-range finish from Paul Peschisolido settled a fiesty west London derby that was marred by fighting instigated by Queens Park Rangers supporters. The Canadian international secured Fulham’s first victory in this fixture for twenty years and QPR’s cause was undermined by the sending off of striker Rob Steiner, who was shown a second yellow card for diving.
The eagerly awaited meeting of these two local rivals were marred by ugly scenes initially in the Putney End as QPR fans appeared to fight with each other whilst goading the home supporters, before play was held up after twenty minutes as fighting spilled over into the Stevenage Road and Riverside stands. On the pitch, the match was a rather sedate affair as Fulham took control with patient and probing passing. There has been a distinct change in style from the Kevin Keegan days under Paul Bracewell, who criticised his players for looking for a second goal in the latter stages rather than shutting up shop.
Fulham had looked purposeful from the off, with Welsh international Paul Trollope at the heart of their most promising moves. Peschisolido missed two good chances to give them the lead, but made no mistake when QPR goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko spilled Trollope’s speculative shot into his path on seventeen minutes. Steiner only had himself to blame for his dismissal as he committed a succession of niggly fouls from the outset and, having been cautioned, delayed his fall after being held back by Steve Hayward until he had run another five yards in the penalty area.
QPR threatened only sporadically after the sending off, barely getting out of their half in the second period, but Andy Melville did produce a brilliant saving tackle when Gavin Peacock appeared set to slot into the open net after Maik Taylor had failed to get distance on his punch from a routine cross. Fulham should have put the game to bed in the second half but Clark rattled the post with a fierce drive and Peschisolido this time turned the rebound into Miklosko’s grateful grasp. In the last minute, with QPR having thrown numbers forward, Trollope sent Barry Hayles clear of the visiting defence but the substitute shot wide.
Ian Baraclough interrogated the referee, Rob Styles, on the full-time whistle and QPR boss Gerry Francis restricted himself to merely criticising the official’s handling of the first half in his post-match comments. But the experienced Francis admitted his side were nowhere near the level that Fulham produced and Paul Bracewell could afford himself a smile after masterminding a run of three consecutive victories.
FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Finnan, Brevett, Coleman, Symons, Melville; Hayward, Trollope, Clark (W. Collins 79); Horsfield, Peschisolido (Hayles 71). Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Uhlenbeek, Morgan.
GOAL: Peschisolido (17).
QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-4-2): Miklosko; Rose, Baraclough, Ready, Maddix; Langley, Peacock, Wardley, Scully; Kiwomya (Gallen 45), Steiner. Subs (not used): Harper, Rowland, Breaker, Morrow.
BOOKED: Steiner, Scully.
SENT OFF: Steiner.
REFEREE: Rob Styles (Hampshire).