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BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"The pitch did not help the match"
 real 14k

Fulham keeper Maik Taylor
"We didn't perform well, but at least we got the point"
 real 14k

Sunday, 4 February, 2001, 15:19 GMT
Fulham 1-1 Sheff Utd
Boa Morte puts Fulham ahead
Luis Boa Morte rounds Simon Tracey to open the scoring
Laurent D'Jaffo's header saw Sheffield United deservedly prevent Fulham from taking another giant step towards the Premiership.

D'Jaffo flicked home a Michael Brown free kick just before half-time to cancel out Luis Boa Morte's opener for the Cottagers.

Neil Warnock's side battled throughout to put the brakes on Fulham's title charge, though the Londoners are still 10 points clear at the top of the table.

But even with Fulham's massive advantage at the top of the table, there is no such thing as a home banker at Craven Cottage these days.

The weather has left the pitch heavy and boggy in places, and this game was even in some doubt as ground staff worked all morning to ensure the pitch was playable.

  Key moments
17 mins - Boa Morte beats the offside trap to put Fulham in front
41 mins - D'Jaffo heads a deserved equaliser for Blades
68 mins - Fulham sub Riedle is denied by Tracey
74 mins - Riedle's turn and shot is beaten out by Tracey
Tracey denies Boa Morte a second goal with another fine save
86 mins - Montgomery is denied by Taylor from a long-range effort
The surface, combined with United's gritty approach to the game, ensured Fulham never had things their own way.

In fact, they were fortunate to take the lead with their only real threat of the first half.

Louis Saha sent strike partner Louis Boa Morte clear and, as the Blades defence stood appealing for offside, the Portuguese striker rounded Simon Tracey and slotted home from a tight angle.

Either side of the goal, the visitors had looked the more likely team to score.

New signing Peter Ndlovu had an early effort bravely blocked by Steve Finnan in a remarkable goalmouth scramble.

Then, the energetic Robert Kozluk was narrowly off target with a long-range effort.

It was certainly not against the run of play when Laurent D'Jaffo levelled four minutes before half-time.

In fact, half-time parity was the least that Neil Warnock's side deserved.

D'Jaffo was the scorer, deftly flicking home amid a crowd of players following a Michael Brown's free kick from the left.

Luis Boa Morte
Boa Morte was denied a second-half winner

The visitors continued to frustrate the league leaders after the break - with Montgomery in particular stifling Fulham playmaker - and emotions threatened to boil over midway through the second half.

Fernandez's free kick found substitute Karlheinz Riedle, whose diving header was somehow kept out by a combination of the post and Tracey's scrambling goalline save.

But an offside flag against the German sparked protests from the home side and a spat involving Ndlovu and George Santos threatened to turn ugly.

It looked for a moment as if Santos was going to be shown a red card for his involvement but, as referee Graham Frankland consulted his assistant, Warnock was quick to substitute his fiery midfielder.

Defence-splitting pass

As Fulham tried all they could to break free of Sheffield's shackles, Jean Tigana's side became increasingly dangerous.

Riedle was at the centre of much of their attacking play and his clever turn and shot produced a fine save from the alert Tracey.

The long-serving keeper made an even better stop 12 minutes from time, blocking with his legs to deny Boa Morte after Fernandez had sent him clear with a glorious defence-splitting pass.

At the other end, the impressive Montgomery stung Maik Taylor's hands with a rasping shot late on.

Victory then would have flattered the visitors. A hard

Fulham: Taylor, Brevett, Symons, Melville, Finnan, Clark, Goldbaek, Davis, Fernandes, Saha, Boa Morte. Subs: Hahnemann, Neilson, Sahnoun, Riedle, Moller.

Sheff Utd: Tracey, Kozluk, Murphy, Sandford, Curle, Uhlenbeek, Brown, Montgomery, Santos, Ndlovu, D'Jaffo. Subs: Talia, Jagielka, Suffo, Kelly, Woodward.

Referee: G Frankland (Middlesbrough)

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