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BBC Sport's Simon Mann
reports from Bramall Lane
 real 14k

Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 22:13 GMT
Sheffield Utd 1-1 Fulham
Steve Finnan celebrates his goal
Finnan scored the opening goal at a wet Bramall Lane
Fulham extended their lead at the top of the First Division to six points and preserved their unbeaten away record with a fully deserved point against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

All the action came in a thrilling opening period in which Steve Finnan put the visitors ahead with a sparkling individual goal after four minutes only for Laurent D'Jaffo to level for the Blades four minutes later.

The Londoners had the better of a quieter second period but could not break down the stubborn United rearguard and had to settle for a point.

Frantic opening

The game exploded into life when Finnan picked up a loose ball midway inside the United half and weaved his way through a static home defence before slotting the ball past Simon Tracey.

I thought the lads showed a lot of pride and passion. We defended very well as a team and when we got a chance to go forward we didn't really worry about their reputation
  Neil Warnock, Sheff Utd manager

But the home side hit back against the run of play after eight minutes.

Michael Brown ran unchallenged into the Fulham penalty area and released D'Jaffo.

His first shot cannoned off the crossbar, but following a goalmouth scramble, D'Jaffo made no mistake with his second effort from a tight angle which squeezed into the net via a deflection.

In a frantic opening to the match, Barry Hayles should have given the visitors the lead within the first minute.

Finnan charged down Wayne Quinn's attempted clearance, and the ball fell invitingly to the striker but he could only drill a low shot straight into the legs of the on-rushing Tracey.

Custodians to the fore

Fulham goalkeeper Maik Taylor was also kept busy and he prevented the Blades from taking an 11th-minute lead when he managed to claw away Marcus Bent's header from a Quinn corner.

Taylor also had to be at his best to deny Georges Santos with a near-post block and he was grateful to see D'Jaffo head straight into his hands after Paul Devlin had provided the Frenchman with a perfect centre.

Fulham also had their chances before the break, and Fabrice Fernandes missed a golden opportunity when he danced his way into the penalty area but, just when he seemed certain to score, saw his six-yard shot palmed away by Tracey.

People have said we cannot come to tough places on a wet and windy night and compete with teams, but I think we showed that we can battle
  Lee Clark, Fulham

Soon after the restart Finnan attempted a repeat of his earlier strike, but his shot from just inside the penalty area sailed over the bar.

United manager Neil Warnock introduced Patrick Suffo for his first start in a Blades shirt.

Suffo, ineligible while serving an eight-month international ban for an altercation with an official, never really managed to exert his influence on a game in which conditions became increasingly difficult in relentless, driving rain.

Sheffield United: Tracey, Uhlenbeek, Murphy, Curle, Quinn, Devlin, Santos, M. Brown, Woodhouse, D'Jaffo, Bent.
Subs: Sandford, Ribeiro, Kelly, Montgomery, Suffo.

Fulham: Taylor, Finnan, Brevett, Melville, Coleman, Davis, Clark, Fernandes, Goldbaek, Hayles, Saha.
Subs: Hahnemann, Symons, Trollope, Sahnoun, Boa Morte.

Referee: P Rejer (Tipton).

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