A first half header from Martin Djetou gave Fulham a vital win over Leeds United this afternoon – and piled more pressure on poor Terry Venables.

Jean Tigana’s made light of both their poor recent run of form – having taken just five points from their last 24 available – and a striker crisis that that robbed them of all four first-team forwards. The Whites paired Luis Boa Morte with Steed Malbranque in a makeshift strike partnership and still completely dominated the first half. They should have been out of sight at the interval rather than only leading through Djetou’s tenth-minute header.

Leeds were utterly abject in the first 45 minutes and some slack defending gave Venables’ side a mountain to climb in a match that had been billed as make or break for the former England manager. Martin Djetou was left completely unmarked in the penalty area from Pierre Wome’s corner and the French utility man soared above Paul Robinson to head home the game’s only goal. The Frenchman had already signalled his threat, superbly setting up Boa Morte for an early chance in open play that the Portuguese international dragged off target.

After the opener, Danish winger Bjarne Goldbaek sent a shot just wide from the edge of the area and Sean Davis drew a superb save from Robinson when he headed a cross from Steve Finnan towards the far corner. Steed Malbranque clattered the crossbar from close range when it seemed easier to score and Robinson kept Leeds in the contest with a brilliant double save from Wome and Malbranque just before the break.

Leeds were far more cohesive after what must have been a testy Venables team talk. Michael Bridges, handed a first league start for more than two years, headed an Ian Harte cross wide of goal before Edwin van der Sar clawed away a firm header from substitute Robbie Fowler with fifteen minutes remaining. Fulham threatened to extend their lead on the break with Robinson getting his angles right to prevent Boa Morte from clinching the victory.

The expected Leeds siege on the Fulham goal in the closing stages never really materialised as the Whites held on comfortably, keeping possession with a swagger as Leeds slumped to a fourth league defeat in succession.

FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Djetou; Davis, Legwinski, Goldbaek, Wome; Malbranque, Boa Morte. Subs (not used): Taylor, Knight, Inamoto, Stolcers, Willock.

BOOKED: Legwinski, Davis, Wome.

GOAL: Djetou (10).

LEEDS UNITED (4-4-2): Robinson, Kelly, Woodgate, Duberry, Harte (Mills 73), Bakke, Okon, McPhail (Milner 57), Wilcox, Smith (Fowler 45), Bridges. Subs (not used): Martyn, Lucic.

BOOKED: Bakke, Fowler, Woodgate, Wilcox.

REFEREE: Paul Durkin (Dorset).