Saturday 13 August 2005, 3:00pm at Craven Cottage, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Birmingham City

36' Yellow Card

Sylvain Legwinski Card was given for a foul

46' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Collins John
Off:Tomasz Radzinski

90' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Ahmad Elrich
Off:Sylvain Legwinski

37' Yellow Card

Stephen Clemence Card was given for a foul

68' Yellow Card

Matthew Upson Card was given for a foul

Neither side could find the back of the net on Saturday afternoon as the Premiership season kicked off with a tough encounter against Birmingham City. Despite cutting through their opponents with slick counter attacking moves on numerous occasions, the Whites were unable to find the back of the net.

There was an underlying air of tension on the pitch in the early exchanges of this season opener at Craven Cottage.  With chances at a minimum in the opening minutes much of the match was contested in the central third with both teams’ styles evident. 

The visitors were mainly looking to find target man Emile Heskey and develop play from his knock downs whilst the Whites played mainly on the counter attack and pressed high up the pitch.  It was 18 minutes before the first short on target was registered, Steed Malbranque chested down a loose ball on the edge of the area before firing a vicious, dipping volley goalwards which Maik Taylor unconventionally managed to hold on to. 

On 23 minutes a well delivered Claus Jensen free kick had the Birmingham back line in some difficultly as the ball dipped awkwardly into a group of hesitant Blues defenders. The ball deflected up but was scrambled away before Fulham could take advantage. 

The Birmingham back line struggled to cope with another Fulham set piece on 33 minutes when, again, another Jensen set piece caused an element of miscommunication.  The ball squirmed out to Malbranque whose fierce effort could not find its way past a wall of blue shirts. 

On 44 minutes a swift counter attack from Fulham, led by Steed Malbranque gave the Whites there best opportunity of the first half to get on the score sheet. Having run over 40 yards with the ball, Malbranque passed to McBride, instead of shooting, the American international clipped a fine reverse pass inside to Boa Morte who could only just beat Taylor to the ball.  Having been forced out wide, Boa Morte spun and clipped his shot against the cross bar. 

Collins John replaced the hard working Tomasz Radzinksi at half time and his first touch of the ball, a cheeky back-heel in midfield helped set up a dangerous Fulham attack. 

In his new role as Captain, Luis Boa Morte was putting in a typically committed display, which was best typified in the 49th minute when he tracked Pennant infield and executed a perfectly timed tackle to regain possession. 

Julian Gray passed up a glorious opportunity to score for the visitors on 59 minutes when he managed to dispossess Malbranque and worked his way towards goal.  A  Zat Knight slip opened the door and Gray fired his shot wide just wide of Warner’s far post. 

Fulham had the ball in the back of the net on 63 minutes when Brian McBride managed to glance a near post header past Taylor, but unfortunately McBride had strayed marginally offside when Boa Morte delivered the cross.  Nonetheless, the goal gave the Fulham faithful good reason to cheer. 

Another lightning counter attack from Fulham on 69 minutes led by John saw the ball worked to Jensen on the left wing, his cross found Malbranque at the back post but the Frenchman could only fired over on the stretch. 

Fulham had a scare on 73 minutes when a Pennant cross was put wide by Volz with three Birmingham players lurking. 

Birmingham pressed hard in the closing stages but thanks to some stern defending and two smart saves from Warner, there was no breaching Fulham’s back line.  At the other end, Claus Jensen saw his free kick saved by Taylor whilst Collins John’s shot was also smothered by the ex-Fulham stopper.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 13 August 2005
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Craven Cottage, London
Attendance: 16,550

Referee: Rob Styles


Line-up: Warner; Volz, Knight, Rehman, Jensen; Malbranque, Legwinski (Elrich 90'), Claus Jensen, Boa Morte; McBride, Radzinski (John 46')

Unused substitutes: Batista, Leacock, Helguson

Birmingham City

Line-up: Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Clapham; Pennant, Butt, Clemence, Gray; McPike, Heskey

Unused substitutes: Vaesen, Izzet, Lazaridis, Allen, Forssell

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Charlton Athletic 1 3
2 West Ham United 1 3
3 Manchester United 1 3
4 Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
5 Aston Villa 1 1
6 Bolton Wanderers 1 1
7 Birmingham City 1 1
8 Fulham 1 1
9 Manchester City 1 1
10 West Bromwich Albion 1 1
11 Arsenal 0 0
12 Chelsea 0 0
13 Liverpool 0 0
14 Middlesbrough 0 0
15 Newcastle United 0 0
16 Wigan Athletic 0 0
17 Blackburn Rovers 1 0
18 Sunderland 1 0
19 Everton 1 0
20 Portsmouth 1 0
Fulham (4-4-2)
  • 12Tony Warner
  • 2Moritz Volz
  • 6Zat Knight
  • 21Zesh Rehman
  • 33Niclas Jensen
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 5Sylvain Legwinski
  • 8Claus Jensen
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 20Brian McBride
  • 13Tomasz Radzinski
  • 16Ricardo Batista
  • 22Dean Leacock
  • 27Ahmad Elrich
  • 10Heidar Helguson
  • 15Collins John
Birmingham City (4-4-2)
  • 1Maik Taylor
  • 29Mario Melchiot
  • 4Kenny Cunningham
  • 20Matthew Upson
  • 3Jamie Clapham
  • 7Jermaine Pennant
  • 20Nicky Butt
  • 6Stephen Clemence
  • 11Julian Gray
  • James McPike
  • 18Emile Heskey
  • 18Nico Vaesen
  • 6Muzzy Izzet
  • 11Stan Lazaridis
  • Oliver Allen
  • 9Mikael Forssell