Cottagers claim crucial win
Super-sub Nevland sends Fulham into a frenzy
By Hayley Paterson. Last Updated: 12/04/08 6:21pm
Nevland: First Fulham goal
Fulham recorded their first away win of the season and a much-needed three points thanks to goals from Brian McBride and Erik Nevland.
Reading were on the receiving end of a Fulham onslaught with the crossbar coming to the Royals' rescue on three occasions - twice Marcus Hahnemann had to get the slightest of touches to tip it onto the woodwork and keep the score down.
Captain Brian McBride put in a superb performance and got his just rewards on the 24th minute when he connected well to lash home Simon Davies' cross.
Fulham piled on the pressure with the game heading for a 1-0 away win but super-sub Erik Nevland had other ideas when he came off the bench, found himself in some space and slotted the ball home for his first goal for Fulham.
Kevin Doyle missed Reading's best chance shortly before the interval, summing up a poor performance from the Royals whose own relegation fears have now intensified.
It was desperate match at times but Fulham boss Roy Hodgson, who was sent spiralling into despair after last Saturday's defeat by Sunderland, will not have minded as his side claimed three priceless points.
The Cottagers looked doomed to the Coca-Cola Championship following their 3-1 mauling by Roy Keane's side but could yet pull off an unlikely escape act.
Crucially they face fellow strugglers Birmingham in the penultimate match of the season and the Blues' draw with Everton has further improved their chances of avoiding the drop.
Northern Ireland striker David Healy was rewarded for his goal against Sunderland by winning a rare start alongside McBride.
Fulham were opened up when John Oster and Liam Rosenior combined down the right but Shane Long failed to connect cleanly with the final ball and his shot slid wide.
Marek Matejovsky was allowed to maraud through midfield as Fulham continued to look brittle on the counter-attack.
A chance fell to McBride who had escaped unmarked onto the far post but centre-back Andre Bikey intervened at the crucial moment.
Neither side were in a hurry to make things happen, although Fulham continued to find themselves on the back foot - until they scored against the run of play.
Simon Davies darted free down the left in the 24th minute and produced a perfect cross for McBride who stabbed home from close range before Matejovsky could stop him.
The visitors were quicker to the ball and tackled with greater intent, although McBride was forced to produce a crucial header as Bikey threatened to convert a corner.
Then a cross was whipped in to Doyle who outjumped Aaron Hughes but the Royals marksman's header was off target when he had the goal at his mercy.
Fulham went desperately close to extending their lead when Healy teed up McBride but his thunderous 10-yard volley struck the crossbar.
Another McBride shot was blocked by Ivar Ingimarsson as Fulham's confidence continued to grow and then Healy tried his luck with a crafty turn and shot.
Reading, who appeared increasingly nervous, now looked like the away team as they struggled to loosen their opponents' grip on the match.
Bikey nodded over the crossbar - he scored two goals from a similar position against Birmingham last month - before Hangeland struck the woodwork at the other end.
Bullard followed in Hangeland's footsteps by striking the post with a free-kick before Nevland made no mistake in injury time.Davies set up the opportunity with a killer pass that Nevland expertly tucked home.
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|0||Shots on Target||4|
|4||Shots off Target||9|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|