Fulham 2 Leeds 0
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Goals from Sean Davis and the busy Luis Boa Morte handed Chris Coleman the ideal tonic upon his return to the dugout and left Leeds a step nearer the Nationwide League.
There was no shortage of toil on show at Loftus Road but the dearth of quality in the first half ensured this match was added to a lengthening list of contenders for worst game of the season.
Jermaine Pennant was lively on the right wing but he epitomised the frustrating nature of the contest by failing to deliver quality from good positions, most notably when floated a cross over Alan Smith's head after a clever pass from Mark Viduka.
Luis Boa Morte was typically tenacious in attack and lofted a shot over the bar after Seth Johnson inadvertently flicked the ball into his path while at the opposite end Dominic Matteo stung a volley into the crowd after Fulham failed to clear a corner.
Boa Morte almost took advantage of a mix-up in the Leeds defence after taking Gary Kelly's weak header past Paul Robinson but the angle was too acute for a shot and his final ball was poor.
The Portuguese ace then freed Steed Malbranque into space but the Frenchman's shot failed to match the purposefulness of his run when he struck his attempt tamely at Robinson.
The best opening of the first period fell to Boa Morte just before half time after a raking long pass from Sylvain Legwinski sent him clear but he disappointingly shot straight at Robinson.
The opening five minutes of the second period contained more excitement than the entire first half cobbled together as Didier Domi's shot from Pennant's deep corner was palmed away by Edwin Van der Sar.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Boa Morte's cross to the far post enabled Mark Pembridge to steam in and head goalwards but Robinson was alert to block the attempt on the line and Leeds managed to clear the danger.
On 55 minutes, Fulham wasted the best opportunity of the match when Pembridge's corner picked out Barry Hayles unmarked at the back post but the forward carelessly headed wide of the upright.
Pennant's delivery from the right flank was gradually improving, in conjunction with the match, and from his cross Viduka headed over the crossbar while Smith's low shot was smothered by Van der Sar.
Inside the final 20 minutes and the deadlock was finally broken after Davis exchanged passes with Malbranque, collecting the return ball expertly on the run and caressing a shot beyond Robinson.
Fulham almost swiftly doubled their advantage after the industrious Boa Morte clipped a cross to the far post but Malbranque sliced his volley over the crossbar.
Leeds never looked likely to offer a riposte and fell further behind seven minutes from time when Zat Knight's volleyed cross enabled Boa Morte to head home for the goal his performance deserved.
The Whites almost nabbed a consolation after Pennant's flicked pass put Simon Johnson into the penalty area but the substitute rattled his shot off the crossbar.