Sunday 15 December 2002, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Fulham
0
Birmingham City
1
Kirovski 7'
In an ill-tempered match which saw ten yellow cards and Darren Purse sent off for the visitors, an early Jovan Kirovski proved to be the difference between the sides as Birmingham took all three points at Loftus Road.

54' Yellow Card

Steed Malbranque Card was given for a foul

68' Yellow Card

Lee Clark Card was given for a foul

89' Yellow Card

Rufus Brevett Card was given for a foul

46' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Junichi Inamoto
Off:Pierre Wome

52' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Callum Willock
Off:Junichi Inamoto

66' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Lee Clark
Off:Andy Melville

7' Goal

Jovan Kirovski

23' Yellow Card

Damien Johnson Card was given for a foul

25' Yellow Card

Geoff Horsfield Card was given for a foul

41' Yellow Card

Darren Purse Card was given for a foul

58' Yellow Card

Jovan Kirovski Card was given for a foul

70' 2nd Yellow Card

Darren Purse Card was given for a foul

78' Yellow Card

Darryl Powell Card was given for a foul

82' Yellow Card

Olivier Tebily Card was given for a foul

90' Yellow Card

Aliou Cisse Card was given for a foul

73' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Darryl Powell
Off:Jovan Kirovski

75' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Curtis Woodhouse
Off:Damien Johnson

80' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Bryan Hughes
Off:Geoff Horsfield

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

Kirovski, making his full league debut for the club after following Steve Bruce from Crystal Palace to St Andrews in the summer, played a tidy one-two with Clinton Morrison and curled the ball into the bottom corner in the sixth minute.  

However, the first half was devoid of any real interest after then, with Fulham showing little coherence between defence, midfield and attack although they did force Birmingham into two goal-line clearances.  Steve Bruce's men deserved their lead - and Morrison should have doubled it when he had a great one-on-one opportunity after 56 minutes only for Edwin van der Sar to save well.  

Birmingham were forced to play the final 21 minutes a man short when Purse, already on a yellow card, made a reckless lunge at Callum Willock and was booked again.  

An untidy scrap of a match descended into a flurry of bookings from referee Andy D'Urso but Birmingham held on to leave their fans - many dressed in Father Christmas outfits - doing the conga as they clambered away from the drop zone.  

Fulham boss Jean Tigana, who saw his side bow out of the UEFA Cup this week, was forced to pin his hopes on stand-in strikers Luis Boa Morte and Steed Malbranque again this afternoon.  

The Cottagers were without all four recognised forwards, so winger Boa Morte and midfielder Malbranque led the line, just as they did in last weekend's 1-0 home success against Leeds.  

For the Blues, combative midfielder Robbie Savage and ex-Fulham man Geoff Horsfield returned from suspension.  

Damien Johnson saved Birmingham in the third minute, making a goal-line clearance after Sylvain Legwinski half-connected with a header from a corner.  

The Frenchman's header deflected off Kenny Cunningham and was destined for thefar corner of the net until Johnson cleared.  

But the opening goal came at the other end with just six minutes on the clock.  

Kirovski played a neat one-two with Morrison on the edge of the Fulham penalty area and dispatched a superb, curling shot beyond van der Sar's dive and into the bottom corner.  

It was a brilliant piece of finishing by the American midfielder.  

Legwinski, Fulham's midfielder who has grafted a reputation for crunching tackles, curiously bottled a great attacking opportunity in the 21st minute.  

He raced onto Boa Morte's through-ball, but with Blues goalkeeper Nico Vaesenin no-man's land 25 yards from goal, he pulled out of a 50-50 tackle with the shot-stopper.  

Malbranque's close-range drive was then clearly deflected over the top off Purse but ref D'Urso awarded a goal-kick.  Purse did brilliantly to head off his own goal-line when Legwinski met Boa Morte's looping cross with a towering header.  

Fulham midfielder Junichi Inamoto, on as a half-time substitute, lasted just six minutes and limped off after sustaining a leg injury.  

He was replaced by 21-year-old striker Willock, making only the fourth appearance of his Cottagers career.  Savage became involved in a flare-up in the 53rd minute when Malbranque was booked for tussling with him and Andy Melville squared up to his Wales team-mate.  

Van der Sar kept Fulham in the game when Morrison raced clear down the inside-right channel.   

The former Palace player advanced on goal and the Dutch keeper saved with his right boot.  Birmingham were reduced to 10 men in the 69th minute when Purse, already booked for a shove in the first half, made a reckless lunge at Willock.  

The big centre-half caught the Fulham forward on his right thigh and did not even wait for ref D'Urso to show him his second yellow card before turning to walk down the tunnel.  

Fulham substitute Lee Clark unleashed an absolute thunderbolt of a shot with eight minutes left - but Vaesen was in the right place to save.  

Steve Finnan also sent a cracking volley just over the top as Fulham mounted a late rally.  Legwinski missed a great chance in injury-time after the Blues defence panicked and Malbranque somehow failed to connect from just a yard out - with the goal gaping.  

But the visitors hung on to collect three more precious points with Fulham too close for comfort to the relegation scrap just below them.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Sunday 15 December 2002
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 14,962

Referee: Andy D'Urso

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Finnan, Melville (Clark 66'), Goma, Brevett; Malbranque, Davis, Legwinski, Djetou, Wome (Inamoto 46' (Willock 52')); Boa Morte

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Goldbaek

Birmingham City

Line-up: Vaesen; Tebily, Purse, Cunningham, Kenna; Johnson (Woodhouse 75'), Savage, Kirovski (Powell 73'), Cisse; Horsfield (Hughes 80'), Morrison

Unused substitutes: Bennett, Fagan

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 18 36
2 Manchester United 18 35
3 Chelsea 18 34
4 Everton 18 32
5 Liverpool 18 31
6 Newcastle United 17 29
7 Tottenham Hotspur 18 28
8 Southampton 18 27
9 Middlesbrough 18 26
10 Blackburn Rovers 18 24
11 Charlton Athletic 18 24
12 Manchester City 18 24
13 Birmingham City 18 23
14 Fulham 18 22
15 Aston Villa 18 22
16 Leeds United 17 17
17 Sunderland 18 17
18 West Bromwich Albion 18 15
19 Bolton Wanderers 16 14
20 West Ham United 18 13
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Steve Finnan
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 3Rufus Brevett
  • 14Steed Malbranque
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 18Sylvain Legwinski
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 27Pierre Wome
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
Substitutes
  • 12Maik Taylor
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 8Lee Clark
  • 19Bjarne Goldbaek
  • 33Callum Willock
Birmingham City (4-4-2)
  • 18Nico Vaesen
  • 27Olivier Tebily
  • 5Darren Purse
  • 4Kenny Cunningham
  • Jeff Kenna
  • 22Damien Johnson
  • 8Robbie Savage
  • Jovan Kirovski
  • 18Aliou Cisse
  • 29Geoff Horsfield
  • 19Clinton Morrison
Substitutes
  • 13Ian Bennett
  • Darryl Powell
  • Curtis Woodhouse
  • 27Bryan Hughes
  • 39Craig Fagan