Wolves bring Fulham to earth

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers played the role of party-poopers to perfection at Molineux by denying Fulham, the run-away First Division leaders, a place in the history books .

The struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers played the role of party-poopers to perfection at Molineux by denying Fulham, the run-away First Division leaders, a place in the history books .

A record 12th successive league win may have seemed a formality for Fulham beforehand, but Colin Lee's team produced an exhilarating display to deny the classy visitors in front of Wolves' largest home crowd of the season.

After scoring 31 goals in 11 matches, Fulham surprisingly drew a blank as Wolves - incidentally, the last team to beat them in the league - collected what proved to be a fully deserved point.

Wolves, looking for only their third win in the league this season, dropped Darren Peacock to the substitutes' bench after he conceded the winning penalty in Tuesday's West Midlands derby against West Bromwich Albion on his Wolves debut.

Meanwhile, Jean Tigana, the Fulham manager, shuffled his pack and Kit Symons, Paul Trollope and Luis Boa Morte were replaced by Rufus Brevett, Andy Melville and Barry Hayles.

Wolves behaved more like Tigers as they harried Fulham from the outset. With Neil Emblen their lone striker, the recalled Temuri Ketsbaia was part of a five-man midfield in a 4-5-1 formation which rarely stopped working - Tony Dinning performing a particularly fine marking job on the playmaker John Collins.

After Dinning had tested Maik Taylor with a 20-yard free-kick, Fulham nearly took the lead in the seventh minute when Fabrice Fernandes found Brevett galloping down the left, but his cut-back from the byline was intercepted by Ludovic Pollet.

With Simon Osborne starting to keep Lee Clark quiet, Fulham struggled to find their normal fluency, and, when they did, the accuracy of their crosses was uncharacteristically poor.

Clark did manage to make ground down the right three minutes before the break but Louis Saha headed wide from 10 yards.

In first-half injury time, the skipper Kevin Muscat produced a fine save from Taylor with a well-struck long-range drive as Wolves ended the half the stronger.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Wolves continuing to take the game to the leaders. Ketsbaia and Muscat shot wide early on and at times the Fulham defence creaked alarmingly.

The substitution of LuisBoa Morte on the hour made little difference, but 17 minutes from the final whistle Steve Finnan hit the Wolves bar with a delicate chip from 18 yards out.

Comments