Tomasz Radzinski’s first league goal for Fulham piled on the misery for Steve Wigley as Southampton lost again at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
The Canadian international, who made the switch from Everton this summer, continued his fine form from the midweek League Cup success at Bolton, and grabbed the only goal of the game when he darted away from Claus Lundekvam and headed past Antti Niemi midway through the first half. The Saints haven’t won under Wigley, whilst this result was a welcome one for Chris Coleman, who was without a league win in three games.
A tight first half was short on clear cut chances. James Beattie sent an early header wide of the far post after former Fulham winger Fabrice Fernandes floated in a dangerous cross and then Anders Svensson sent Kevin Phillips into the penalty area with a precise pass. The former Sunderland striker fired across Edwin van der Sar, but the Fulham goalkeeper pulled off an excellent reaction save.
Fulham’s first real forward foray came when Mark Pembridge won possession back and found Razinski, whose cross reached Brian McBride but the American’s shot after turning impressively was tame and easily handled by Niemi. But the home side did take the lead a couple of minutes later. Luis Boa Morte was the provider against his old club, drifting in from the left and floating a lovely ball towards the penalty area. Radzinski darted past Lundekvam and nodded the Whites in front from six yards out.
Saints responded with a strong drive from outside the box by Phillips and Beattie found more space in the penalty area but headed Graeme Le Saux’s centre over the bar. Fulham were back on the front foot after the break with Radzinski rampaigning down the right hand side and it needed Niemi to bravely dive at the feet of McBride.
The visitors almost found a route back in the contest when Fernandes brought back memories of his loan spell at Craven Cottage under Jean Tigana when he skated away from Adam Green and laid on a perfect opportunity for Rory Delap, who unforgivably thrashed over from twelve yards. Wigley’s decision to replace Svensson after an hour was greeted by chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing?’ from the Saints support, although the away side did create good chances as time ticked away.
Beattie was brilliantly denied by a wonderful save from van der Sar when he had wriggled clear of the Fulham backline and latched onto Lundekvam’s forward ball. Pearce then inexplicably passed straight to Phillips as he faced his own goal, but the ex-England striker shot harmlessly wide. van der Sar clawed away an effort from Delap as Wigley’s men piled on the pressure but Fulham held on to claim all three points.
FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Volz, Green, Knight, Pearce; Pembridge, Legwinski, Malbranque (McKinlay 85), Boa Morte; Radzinski (John 72), McBride. Subs (not used): Crossley, Goma, Rehman.
GOAL: Radzinski (24).
SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2): Niemi; Nilsson, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Le Saux; Fernandes, Delap, Prutton, Anders Svensson (McCann 61); Phillips, Beattie. Subs (not used): Blayney, Kenton, Higginbotham, Crouch.
REFEREE: Graham Poll (Hertfordshire).