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December 12 2019 9.18pm

Fulham 3 - 1 Palace

Wednesday October 18 2000 - League

Going away to Fulham would have been unthinkable 3 years ago - Palace riding high in the premiership and Fulham playing the likes of the seaweed.

Yet here we found ourselves on a Wednesday night. God must know when we are playing Fulham - as, just as last season, the heavens opened and not just off the pitch.

Palace on the back on many dodgy defeats and Fulham with 10 wins on the spin did not fuel much fervour in our away support.......but the numbers were there in force again to support the Red and Blue Army. But as the match kicked off there were reasons for optimism - New Boy Andresz Rubins on the bench and the fact that we have been playing well but not getting the rewards.

Well forget all that as in the first 15 minutes Palace were given a footballing lesson by a Fulham side now destined for promotion and probably the championship. There were moments when there were about 10 - 15 passes without a Palace player touching the ball.....and this inevitably led to the first goal.

Corner in and while Kolinko went up Louis Saha, who had an excellent match headed in the first after 10 minutes. The marking was suspect but the header was clinical (Clinton please take note)...

This inspired a Palace comeback and this led to about 10 minutes of Palace pressure....which forced 2 corners and from the second one Fulham failed to clear thier lines......and in the ensuing mayhem Ruddock smashed the ball into the corner and we were level....cue mass pandamonium in the away end and silence for those amassed in the home end who could not get into Chelsea!

This is where the good stuff ends and the reality begins...Fulham immediately piled on the pressure and it took all of 6 minutes to redress the one goal margin as a great through ball from Fabrice Fernandes put Lee Clark clear and he did not miss from 10 yards.....2 - 1 and cue another fightback.... But it was not to be - although Palace huffed and puffed they could not find an equaliser.

Even when Neil Ruddock threw himself at the ball and only injured himself summed up the first half. Lots of endeavour but - no reward. The second half saw the Palace debut of Andresz Rubins for the injured Ruddock - which left Andy Morrison and Hayden Mullins in defence.

A lot had been talked about Rubins but now we can see it for ourselves...and what a talent he is going to be.....according to all the papers as Rubins was left pretty much to fend for himself as Fulham dominated the opening exchanges....which led to goal number three.

Another through pass let in Lee Clark and he did not miss either. The most annoying thing about this was that with 30 minutes to go the lads heads dropped...Morrison stopped chasing, Forsell, for all his endeavour could not break free of Coleman and had no real chances.....and Black ran out of room against the Fulham defence, with no real crossing or danger coming in from the flanks.

Palace intoduced Gray and Carlisle but it was too late, although Carlisle put in 3 fantastic crossed in a 10 minute spell. He is one player who cannot be ignored. Final word must go to Morrison , who is now a marked man and put in another abject performance which was best summed up when Rubins put in a through ball which left 2 defenders for dead and Morrison with the simple task of scoring. He failed. Sums up his season really.

Fulham have not only the flair but also the workrate and the passion to go all the way - and I dont think there was a Palace fan in the ground that night who would disagree.

PALACE MAN OF THE MATCH: ANDY MORRISON - Always worked hard and won high balls...but not too much else to shout about.

CHANT OF THE MATCH: "Where were you when you were shit?!"

RATINGS: KOLINKO 7 -If it wasn't for him, it would have been many more. Defence is letting him down. SMITH 4/10 - Namesake Alan keeps picking him - Why? Bring on the Carlisle HARRISON 5 - Another average match and average is not good enough now MULLINS 6 - Best midfielder as a defender - did well but we need his intelligence in midfield RUDDOCK 7 - Scored the goal, but for the fourth time this season did not complete the 90 mins MORRISON, A - 8 - See above BLACK 7 Never gave up but got no change out of a resolute Fulham defence POLLOCK 7 - The heartbeat of Palace - but over ran in classy midfield RODGER 4 - Did all the usual but was notably absent from all the action. Very unlike him. MORRISON, C 4 - Starved of spaces and chances- looks distinctly out of sorts. FORSELL 5 As against England - has no finishing touch, good interplay, but still yet to set this division alight. SUBS CARLISLE 7 - Made an immediate impression and made three telling crosses. If only he started. GRAY 5 - Little chance to make an impact RUBINS 7 - Had only limited service but has shown enough that he is/will be a good buy. Fantastic awareness to set up Morrison chance in the last five mins.Lots more to come from him

Post match comments

Palace boss Alan Smith said: "I'll just say that Fulham played really well - they are an exceptional team. But it's taken them three years to get where they are and we can't do that in three months.

"I was here at Fulham when it started but I never thought it would go as far as this. Johnny Haynes would be proud of them. I can't see anyone stopping them.

"I get disappointed when people don't see what they have done. It hasn't happened overnight, there have been changes in personnel and hard work all round to bring this about.

"I thought before the game that we could come here and get a result. But Fulham played very well and all credit to them.

"I don't want to be too generous about it because I want to do well for Crystal Palace Football Club and I want to achieve something similar to what's being done here. 3-1 is not satisfactory but I can't take anything away from Fulham."

Jamie Smith said: "Fulham showed tonight what a great side they are. We knew it would be difficult and they play some excellent football.

"We weren't switched on for two of the goals. Louis Saha is different class. He has everything, pace and ability. Fulham have to be favourites to win this league."

And former Eagle Chris Coleman said: "It's always nice to get a result over one of your old clubs. I thought tonight we did well and it was quite a physical game at times."

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Match Stats

Ground: Craven Cottage (Attendance: 16040)

Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Symons, Coleman, Trollope, Goldbaek (Davis 67), Clark (Lewis 80), J. Collins, Fernandes, Saha, Boa Morte (Hayles 55).

Subs not used: Hahnemann, W. Collins.

Booked: Symons

Goals: Saha 10, Clark 23, 59.

Palace: Kolinko, Smith, Ruddock (Rubins 45), Mullins, Rodger, C. Morrison, Black (Gray 72), Forssell (Carlisle 72), Pollock, A. Morrison, Harrison.
Subs not used: Thomson, Austin.

Booked: Smith, Pollock.

Goals: Ruddock 17.

Referee: M Brandwood (Lichfield)

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