That winning feeling

Monday 22 April 2002

After securing a vital win at Leeds and effectively guaranteeing their Premiership status, Fulham look to have eased the pressure for their remaining fixtures this season.

Going into the Elland Road clash, many fans were still targeting the home games against Bolton and Leicester as the matches where the Whites would pick up their much-needed points.

However, a clinical strike from Steed Malbranque put Fulham ahead of the game for the final run-in. Such was the nature of the goal that many could not fully believe that the ball had; in fact, hit the back of the net.

Seemingly it was only Fulham who could concede goals of that nature, but the bounce has started to favour the Whites again after a long spell away.

Speaking after the match, midfielder Sean Davis spoke of his delight at finally getting that sought-after win.

"We worked our socks off. Leeds could have punished us before half-time but they didn't and I thought we deserved the win.

"Normally this season, teams punish us but they didn't this time. We defended well and everyone, from the strikers to Edwin van der Sar in goal, had a good game.

"We were always up for this game. We've not had much luck and you are supposed to earn your luck and I thought we did that.

As football statisticians would be only too keen to point out, the team that scores the first goal of the game usually goes on to win. However, some could have been forgiven for thinking that the one-goal lead had only put Fulham one goal further away from defeat, as opposed to a goal closer to victory.

Indeed, Leeds had their chances early in the game and even netted first, fortunately for Fulham the goal was disallowed and the Whites lived on, as Davis acknowledged.

"Leeds missed chances, Robbie Keane had a one-on-one just before half-time and normally that goes in, but it hasn't and we have come back and Steed has got us the winner.

"If we had conceded then it would have killed us. To come to Leeds and get a result like this is a great achievement. We knew this was a big game and we have worked hard to get the win.

"I hope we're safe now. But we have three more big games left and hopefully we'll go on to win them all.

"Some of the lads said in the dressing room, they're not used to this feeling because we haven't won in a long time. It's a nice feeling and hopefully we can continue that on Tuesday. I still think we need two wins to make really sure."

Casting his eye ahead to the last evening match at the Cottage as we know it, Davis was cautious of a resolute Bolton side. With both sides having almost identical records so far in the Premiership, no one should be under any illusions that this will be an easy game.

"We have a big game on Tuesday now and hopefully we can repeat this performance in front of the home crowd and get the three points we need.

"The main thing for us this season is to stay in the Premiership. We have come a long way since I've been here and we were back in the Third Division. To come and stay in the Premiership in the first season is a good achievement."