Football: Late fillip for Fulham

York City 0 Fulham 1 Peschisolido 75 Attendance: 4,871
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The Independent Online
THE attempt to bestow Fulham with a touch of glamour has yet to catch on in the shires. In York yesterday a meeting of European finance ministers attracted greater curiosity than the presence of Kevin Keegan and company. Indeed, to the casual observer at York City's Bootham Crescent ground, it might have seemed that Ray Wilkins had turned up at the wrong event, the shine of his shoes and the elegant cut of his dark grey suit giving the Fulham team manager an incongruous appearance among the training tops and tracksuits at pitch side.

Wilkins has been particular with his attire ever since his time at Milan. When the temperature dropped at half-time he re-emerged not in the Adidas manager's coat he undoubtedly possesses, but in a full-length beige raincoat which one suspects he did not buy at C&A. He stood throughout, mostly leaning against the dug-out, sometimes taking a stride towards the touchline to shout to a player but never compromising his cool.

Even when Fulham scored with 15 minutes left, a goal ultimately worth three valuable points, he barely stirred, greeting Paul Peschisolido's strike without even a smile, never mind anything so vulgar as a show of celebration.

Maybe it was the fact he had company this time, his seniority on the bench usurped by Keegan. This, many Fulham watchers believe, is down to the fact that the nerves are creeping in now as the form needed to clinch a play-off place proves elusive.

Even in victory, Wilkins turned away shaking his head as the referee blew for time, aware the performance had been scrappy and disjointed. The replacement after 55 minutes of Tony Thorpe with the more rugged Paul Moody in the end was decisive, the former Oxford striker playing a key role in the movement that finished with Peschisolido forcing home from close range, but the outcome owed more to robust defending than any noticeable creativity. Certainly there was not much in the way of style.

York were unlucky not to secure a point from a determined late assault in which three Fulham players were booked. "I'm delighted with the result but that's about the only good thing you can say," Wilkins admitted. "I'd prefer to win with a bit more style but at this stage of the season points are paramount."

So far, Wilkins and Keegan have spent pounds 6.5m in pursuit of Mohamed Al- Fayed's five-year plan to reach the Premiership. Promotion this season, Wilkins says, is not essential to their strategy but looms enticingly now. "To not at least reach the play-offs would be very disappointing," Wilkins said.

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