Karl-Heinz Riedle enjoyed a winning start as Fulham’s caretaker manager as Geoff Horsfield’s first half proved enough to see off crisis club Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

The veteran German striker was handed his first managerial role until the end of season on Thursday when Paul Bracewell was dismissed having presided over a miserable run that saw the Cottagers pick up only one point from a possible twelve. Riedle, who brought him his former Liverpool boss Roy Evans to offer coaching assistance, has denied any interest in taking the permanent job and left himself out of his first Fulham starting line-up, picking American international Eddie Lewis on the left wing.

The recent £1.3m capture from MLS outfit San Jose Eathquakes caught the eye on his first Fulham start and supplied the only goal of the game for burly centre forward Horsfield, who fired past Matt Gregg to score his fourteenth goal of an injury-ravaged season. The home side struggled to make further inroads against a disciplined Palace defence that has conceded just four goals in their last seven matches, but Steve Coppell’s problem is scoring goals.

The visitors dominated the second half and were unfortunate not to head back to south London with a share of the spoils. Finnish forward Mikael Forrsell spurned two good chances to bring Palace level, miskicking badly in front of goal just after the hour mark, and then seeing a shot from just outside the area turned aside by Maik Taylor two minutes later. The Northern Irish international then made late saves from Clinton Morrison and former Fulham loanee Leon McKenzie to give the Whites a much-needed victory over a bruising week.

Riedle told the press after the final whistle:

“It was not the best game we have ever played but the players gave 100 per cent and you can’t ask for any more than that. Palace played well and overlapped us at times, but the important thing was that we won. Paul was not only a good manager but a good person. The club asked me to do a favour and take over for the last seven games. But I think it was a mistake to sack Paul, he should have had a full season.”

Fulham chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed has approached the former French World Cup winner Jean Tigana, who coached Monaco to Ligue 1 glory three years ago, after being turned down by Joe Kinnear and Eric Cantona.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Finnan, Phelan, Melville, Coleman; Morgan (W. Collins 70), Hayward, Goldbaek, Lewis; Horsfield (Davis 87), Peschisolido (Hayles 70). Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Symons.

BOOKED: Lewis.

GOAL: Horsfield (17).

CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3):  Gregg; Austin, Cole, Liningan, Zhiyi; Mullins, Foster, Carlisle (Hunt 80); Morrison, Forssell, McKenzie. Subs (not used): Kendall, Woozley, Hibburt, Smith.


REFEREE: Phil Richards (Preston).