Toffees unstuck by McBride
A second half Brian McBride header breathed fresh life into Fulham's bid to avoid the drop as they beat Everton 1-0.
Last Updated: 16/03/08 6:22pm
A second half Brian McBride header breathed fresh life into Fulham's bid to beat the drop, on an afternoon when Everton's challenge for a top four finish suffered a body blow.
A game governed by blustery conditions in West London will not live long in the memory but Fulham will feel the win could yet salvage a season that has looked destined to end in relegation almost from the start.
The first half was turgid and devoid of any incident of genuine note, as Everton carried heavy legs following their gargantuan midweek exertions in eventually exiting the Uefa Cup to Fiorentina.
McBride's goal arrived in the 67th minute when from another former Evertonian's cross, McBride stooped to convert Simon Davies' whipped delivery, which took a telling touch off Jospeh Yobbo on its way through.
Fulham began in sparkling fashion but their eagerness to get an early goal was all too evident when Jimmy Bullard scuffed a 20-yard shot that failed to trouble Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Fulham were the only side in the game in the early stages and a delightfully chipped pass by Davies allowed McBride to try his luck with a left-foot volley that flashed past the far post.
Everton's lacklustre start was clearly of concern manager David Moyes and their situation was not helped by an enforced substitution in the 13th minute. England striker Andrew Johnson was replaced by Tony Hibbert after appearing to collect an ankle knock.
Fulham continued to seize the initiative and a cross from Davies was just too long for Eddie Johnson to take advantage.
The home side were guilty of some poor passing in the final third but they were rarely troubled by an Everton side that now relied on the solitary figure of Aiyegbeni Yakubu in attack.
It took the Merseysiders until the 24th minute to engineer their first real attempt at goal and then Steven Pienaar's effort bounced harmlessly wide of Kasey Keller's upright.
In the 36th minute, Fulham defender Brede Hangeland was caught out by some clever footwork from Yakubu but Everton wasted the free-kick when Mikel Arteta sent the ball behind the line for a goal kick.
It was Everton who came closest to breaking the deadlock three minutes before the interval. A smart move down the right flank involving Pienaar and Phil Neville ended with Yakubu finding space inside the penalty area.
However, the Everton striker tried to use power to beat Keller and the Fulham goalkeeper was able to palm the ball to safety.
Fulham began the second period full of intent but the lack of invention from the midfield continued to ensure the scoresheet remained blank.
Fulham's Johnson managed to win a corner in the 59th minute but when Bullard played the ball into the area, the Fulham striker headed over from six yards.
The home side had to make their pressure tell but when Bullard floated over another corner three minutes later, it was Davies who this time sent his header over the crossbar.
But the breakthrough finally arrived in the 67th minute through captain McBride. The goal owed much to the skill and endeavour of Davies on the left flank who sent over a perfect cross for the American striker to head into the net.
Yobbo missed a glorious chance when he headed over when free from Arteta's delivery from the right, but it was not to be as Everton struggled to carve out clear cut opportunities.
Davies got the script horribly wrong when he lobbed meekly wide when free on the counter-attack no more than six yards from goal but it counted for little as Fulham held on manfully.
It was just reward for the home side who had kept their more illustrious opponents subdued for much of the contest. It proved to be enough for Fulham to hang to all three points.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||4|
|4||Shots off Target||5|