Saturday 3 April 2004, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Fulham
0
Birmingham City
0
In a bruising encounter, no side could break the deadlock as Chris Coleman's Fulham were held to a goalless draw by Birmingham.

45' Yellow Card

Martin Djetou Card was given for a foul

50' Yellow Card

Steed Malbranque Card was given for a foul

59' Yellow Card

Sean Davis Card was given for a foul

76' Yellow Card

Luis Boa Morte Card was given for a foul

66' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Brian McBride
Off:Martin Djetou

75' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Ian Pearce
Off:Barry Hayles

50' Yellow Card

Robbie Savage Card was given for a foul

77' Yellow Card

Matthew Upson Card was given for a foul

39' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Stephen Clemence
Off:Martin Grainger

69' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Stern John
Off:Clinton Morrison

90' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Jamie Clapham
Off:Bryan Hughes

0
15
30
45
60
75
90

The St Andrews side, battling Newcastle and Liverpool for fourth place, looked a shadow of the team who demolished Leeds 4-1 last weekend and were lucky to escape with a goalless draw. It leaves the West Midlands side struggling to qualify for Europe's top club competition but, on this evidence, they could earn a spot in the UEFA Cup. 

Referee Mike Riley was the busiest man in west London as he dished out six bookings - taking the tally from the last four league matches between these sides to 23 yellow cards and five reds. Robbie Savage was, as so often in Birmingham's memorable season, at the heart of the good things they did do today. 

The Welsh international, at the centre of controversy on Wednesday when he was involved in a confrontation with Hungary boss Lothar Matthaus, was back from suspension and smashed a fourth-minute drive against the crossbar. But that was as good as it got for the visitors and it was Maik Taylor, the Blues' former Fulham 'keeper who has just made his move to St Andrews permanent in a £1. 5million deal, who was the star for the visitors. 

He made three brilliant first-half saves to deny Barry Hayles, Steed Malbranque and Luis Boa Morte. Fulham remained on top in an uneventful second half and kept a lid on the dangerous Mikael Forssell, the on-loan Chelsea striker whose 18 goals this season make him more prolific than most at Stamford Bridge. A point apiece revives the Cottagers' hopes of bettering their best ever league finish - 10th back in 1960 - and leaves Birmingham focusing their effortson qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Fulham's Martin Djetou had the game's first shot - but his right-foot effort was an absolutely shocking attempt and ballooned into the upper tier 20 yards wide of the target. Savage went much closer at the other end with four minutes on the clock, robbing Moritz Volz and smashing a ferocious 22-yard drive against the face of the crossbar with Edwin van der Sar beaten. Blues defender Martin Grainger was left sporting a black eye and badly-bruised eye socket after a clash with Hayles. 

Only heroics from Taylor prevented the Londoners going in front in the 18th minute. Hayles rose to meet Sean Davis' free-kick and power a header goalwards - which Taylor brilliantly parried.  Djetou headed wide when Sylvain Legwinski chipped the ball back across goal. 

Grainger was left in a heap again by a crunching Legwinski tackle which prompted angry remonstrations by Savage and Steve Bruce with referee Mike Riley. Grainger was substituted before the break. 

Clinton Morrison had two sights of goal as half-time approached but blazed his first shot high and wide and completely missed the ball with his second chance. Fulham showed greater accuracy in attack seven minutes before the break but were thwarted by brilliant Blues defending. Taylor parried Malbranque's fierce drive and then leapt to his feet to save Boa Morte's effort on the rebound - and Matthew Upson blocked Malbranque's follow-up shot. 

There was plenty of niggle in this contest and a flashpoint came four minutes after the break. Savage bundled over Malbranque, who responded by flicking a boot at the Welshman - who seized his French opponent by the scruff of his neck.  Both were booked for their actions. Forssell's angled shot was charged down by Carlos Bocanegra as the Blues tried to break the deadlock. The impetus and needle in this contest had faded markedly, although Fulham remained on top as an uneventful second half unfolded. Referee Wiley turned down a penalty appeal when Boa Morte stumbled after Stan Lazaridis' half-challenge. Chris Coleman threw centre-back Ian Pearce on as a makeshift striker late on but his only contribution was a weak shot which trickled into Taylor's grasp. Bryan Hughes curled a shot wide late on as both sides had to settle for a point.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 3 April 2004
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 14,667

Referee: Mike Riley

Fulham

Line-up: Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Bocanegra; Malbranque, Legwinski, Davis, Djetou (McBride 66'), Boa Morte; Hayles (Pearce 75')

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Inamoto, Petta

Birmingham City

Line-up: Taylor; Taylor, Cunningham, Upson, Grainger (Clemence 39'); Johnson, Savage, Hughes (Clapham 90'), Lazaridis; Forssell, Morrison (John 69')

Unused substitutes: Bennett, Tebily

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 30 74
2 Chelsea 31 70
3 Manchester United 30 62
4 Newcastle United 31 48
5 Liverpool 30 46
6 Birmingham City 31 46
7 Aston Villa 30 43
8 Charlton Athletic 30 43
9 Southampton 31 42
10 Fulham 31 41
11 Middlesbrough 31 41
12 Tottenham Hotspur 31 37
13 Bolton Wanderers 31 37
14 Everton 31 34
15 Manchester City 30 31
16 Blackburn Rovers 30 31
17 Portsmouth 30 30
18 Leicester City 30 28
19 Leeds United 30 25
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 31 24
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Moritz Volz
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 34Carlos Bocanegra
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 5Sylvain Legwinski
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 15Barry Hayles
Substitutes
  • 12Mark Crossley
  • 35Ian Pearce
  • 6Junichi Inamoto
  • 26Bobby Petta
  • 8Brian McBride
Birmingham City (4-4-2)
  • 1Maik Taylor
  • 5Martin Taylor
  • 4Kenny Cunningham
  • 20Matthew Upson
  • Martin Grainger
  • 22Damien Johnson
  • 8Robbie Savage
  • 27Bryan Hughes
  • 11Stan Lazaridis
  • 18Mikael Forssell
  • 19Clinton Morrison
Substitutes
  • 13Ian Bennett
  • 3Jamie Clapham
  • 27Olivier Tebily
  • 6Stephen Clemence
  • Stern John