Boa Morte punctures pride of Pearce

Fulham 1 - Manchester City 1
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The Independent Football

If Stuart Pearce is given the Manchester City manager's job on a permanent basis it is unlikely his goalkeeper, David James, will top his thank-you list. The one-time England keeper blundered to gift Fulham's Luis Boa Morte an unlikely late equaliser yesterday.

If Stuart Pearce is given the Manchester City manager's job on a permanent basis it is unlikely his goalkeeper, David James, will top his thank-you list. The one-time England keeper blundered to gift Fulham's Luis Boa Morte an unlikely late equaliser yesterday.

The animated Pearce, who replaced Kevin Keegan in a caretaker capacity four games ago, seems ideally suited to being a manager and said afterwards he will leave the club in the unlikely event he does not get the top job this summer.

"I've had a taste and I'm ready to be a manager now," he confirmed. "It's down to how results go and up to the board. The crowd seem behind us all and that will help, but it is how the team performs that really matters." City were all but cruising towards a second successive victory when James failed to deal with Lee Clark's 75th-minute long, high cross, under pressure from Brian McBride, and the former Arsenal man Boa Morte shot the loose ball into an empty net.

"It was a Tommy Lawtonesque challenge," mused Pearce, who had no intention of blaming the referee, Neale Barry.

City had deservedly led since Claudio Reyna's goal midway through the first half and Pearce almost seemed like a 12th player as he urged his players on up and down the touchline. "I jump around like an idiot," he admitted, "but I'm enjoying it inside."

The Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, may not agree, but this draw probably assures him and his club another season of Premiership football. They now have a seven-point cushion between themselves and relegation with a match in hand on their rivals and six games to go.

So, this scrappy match meant a lot to both managers as they both battled for their own form of survival. At least there was a decent atmosphere at Craven Cottage. Fulham were possibly more needy, but Pearce's Manchester men just had the edge in terms of quality, most notably from Antoine Sibierski, who produced a great save from Edwin van der Sar early on.

City's American midfielder Reyna took full advantage of an even better opportunity in the 20th minute, though, when Robbie Fowler's cross was met by Sibierski's diving header - Reyna reacted first to prod in after Van der Sar had only parried clear.

Fulham then had to stand firm and James made a great save to prevent Paul Bosvelt from scoring an own goal and also tipped a Boa Morte effort against a post before half-time.

That was a rare glimpse of ability, though, from either side. Only results matter, as football fans are constantly reminded, which is probably why both sets of supporters seemed prepared to put up with more dross as the tension grew during the second half.

It was James and City, however, who cracked at the death. Having been gifted an unlikely equaliser, Fulham went in search of an even more improbable winner, but that would have not been a fair reflection of the game.

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