Fulham 2 Leeds United 0

Last updated : 13 March 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Coleman returned to the dug-out for the first time in over two weeks following a spell in hospital with a blood infection and was made to suffer a nervy affair against a battling Leeds side.

Chances went begging at both ends before Sean Davis finally broke the deadlock 20 minutes from time.

The Fulham midfielder linked up with Steed Malbranque and delivered a great strike beneath Paul Robinson.

And 13 minutes later the Leeds defence went missing as Luis Boa Morte was given time to wrap up the points with a free header.

On his return to the touchline Coleman made two telling changes from last week's defeat at Manchester United.

Ian Pearce returned to the centre of defence in place of Alain Goma, while Barry Hayles was drafted up front to replace Brian McBride. Mark Pembridge also stepped in to midfield due to Lee Clark's calf injury.

For Leeds, Stephen McPhail came in for the injured Eirik Bakke, and Leeds were boosted by the front pairing of Alan Smith and Mark Viduka.

Fulham had most of the possession in the opening stages and had the first real effort of the day when Malbranque unleashed a long-range effort on eight minutes that drifted wide of Robinson's goal.

Referee Steve Dunn was called upon to make his first decision of the day on the quarter-hour mark. Seth Johnson chopped down Sylvain Legwinski on the halfway line and was lucky to escape without a caution.

Leeds began to get a grip on the game and on 20 minutes put together one of the moves of the game. Viduka did brilliantly to tee up Jermaine Pennant on the right wing - but his cross marginally missed the head of Smith at the far post.

Three minutes later Boa Morte was presented with a decent chance at the far post following a deep ball in, but the Portuguese man was unable to keep his shot down and the ball sailed over.

On 27 minutes Legwinski hit a strike from the edge of the box but his weak effort took a couple of deflections and lacked the power to beat Robinson who held on comfortably.

Pennant was booked minutes later for blocking a free-kick and Fulham captain Legwinski was booked on the half-hour for a foul on the Leeds loan winger.

Dominic Matteo and Smith had chances for the visitors but a combination of inaccurate finishing and brave defending denied them an opener.

Just as Leeds appeared to be taking control of the game Gary Kelly almost gifted Fulham the lead. The defender tried to head the ball back to his goalkeeper but Boa Morte was aware to make the most of his weak effort.

However, the Fulham forward took the ball too wide of goal and despite efforts to pull it back across goal the chance went begging.

Adam Green was cautioned for a foul on Pennant and five minutes before the break Malbranque attempted to take matters in his own hands.

The Frenchman beat several players on his journey towards goal before hitting a tame shot straight at the Leeds keeper.

Moments later a lapse in the United defence almost allowed Boa Morte in again - but as the tricky winger got in behind the back four he hit a poor shot straight at Robinson again.

There were no changes at half-time but Leeds got off to a bright start winning an early corner. Pennant delivered a ball to the far post where Didier Domi was given time to hit a left-foot volley only for Edwin Van der Sar to tip his bouncing effort wide of goal.

Minutes later the goalmouth action moved to the other end and Robinson was on top form to deny Pembridge.

Boa Morte delivered a ball to the far post and Pembridge's header was saved brilliantly by the feet of Robinson - and the Leeds keeper recovered superbly to block the midfielder's follow-up effort.

From the following corner Hayles was guilty of one of the worst misses of the season.

The forward was unmarked in the six-yard box direct from a free-kick, but somehow steered his header the wrong side of the Leeds post.

Smith was trying his best to penetrate the Fulham defence and teed up Pennant on 57 minutes. The Leeds winger chipped a ball towards the far post but Viduka headed over.

Smith refused to give in and almost forced an opener soon after. His run to the edge of the box was followed by a left-foot shot that was held by van der Sar.

By this stage spectators were beginning to feel as if they were at a tennis match as the play switched from end to end at a rapid rate. And sure enough Fulham created another chance.

Firstly Legwinski's shot was blocked by Steven Caldwell, and then Boa Morte blasted the rebound over the bar.

With 23 minutes left on the clock Domi earned himself a yellow card for a foul on Moritz Volz, as both sides continued to search for the vital opening goal.

Malbranque wasted a good chance as he dragged a left-foot shot wide following good build-up play by Boa Morte before the deadlock was finally broken.

Malbranque played a one-two with Davis and the midfielder took two touches before tucking the ball away beneath Robinson.

And things almost got worse immediately for Leeds as Boa Morte set up the ever dangerous Malbranque with a neat chip, but his volley whistled just over the bar.

On 83 minutes Leeds' day did get worse. Pembridge hooked the ball wide for Zat Knight to cross to the far post. A queue of players waited but it was Boa Morte who headed in.

Simon Johnson hit the bar with a last-gasp header but it was all too late for Leeds as the whistle sounded to end another sorry day for the visitors.

Man of the match:
Luis Boa Morte - The lively Portuguese striker's pace was a constant threat to the Leeds defence who struggled to cope with him throughout.
He thoroughly deserved his late goal.