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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 17:38 UK

Reading 0-2 Fulham

By Ben Wyatt

Brian McBride
McBride capped a good performance with a vital goal

Fulham sealed their first away win in 33 matches against fellow strugglers Reading to keep alive their hopes of avoiding Premier League relegation.

Brian McBride fired home a Simon Davies cross from close range on 23 minutes to give the visitors a deserved lead.

Fulham hit the bar three times in the second-half before Erik Nevland scored the decisive second, driving home from 15 yards in the dying minutes.

Reading's best chance came when Kevin Doyle headed just wide on 40 minutes.

Fulham started the day with the knowledge that any result other than a win would make relegation all but a certainty.


But as sunshine followed April showers at the Madejski stadium, Roy Hodgson's men broke through the gloom to record one of their best performances of the season.

Jimmy Bullard had the first half-chance for Fulham on seven minutes when he flashed a left-foot shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Shortly after, a deep free-kick found McBride with space inside the Reading area, but his shot was blocked by Andre Bikey's sliding challenge.

Nicky Shorey had the first on-target effort of the match when he fired a limp free-kick from 25 yards into the arms of Kasey Keller.

Hodgson is hoping for a 'miracle escape'

But with 23 minutes played, Fulham broke the deadlock with the first quality move of the match.

Davies fired in a low cross from the left-hand side of the goalmouth, allowing McBride to capitalise on an overstretched defence and fire in from point-blank range.

Reading looked to respond, and only astute defending at the other end prevented Bikey from meeting a dangerous Shorey corner with 10 minutes remaining of the first half.

Their best chance of the first 45 minutes came shortly after, when Doyle headed just yards wide after meeting a 30-yard floated cross from John Oster.

Stephen Hunt then rifled a cross from the left wing to force a low punch from Keller at the near post, but at half-time it was Fulham who maintained a deserved lead.

The momentum remained with the visitors after the restart when McBride came agonisingly close to getting a spectacular second.

Coppell says his players showed fear

The American latched onto to a right-wing cross from David Healy to send a stinging left-foot volley crashing onto the crossbar from 15 yards.

McBride's presence continued to cause problems as Fulham focused their attack to the wings, leaving the Reading defence reeling.

Steve Coppell tried to wrest back control by bringing on Dave Kitson, and Reading came close when Bikey squandered a free header from inside the area.

However, Fulham remained dangerous if not a little unlucky.

Brede Hangeland forced Marcus Hahnemann to push his header onto the bar from Healy's corner with 20 minutes remaining.

Fulham then hit the woodwork again shortly after when Bullard's rasping 20-yard free-kick curled over the wall and struck the bar.

But victory was sealed when Nevland broke free and fired into the bottom left-hand corner from just outside the area.

• Reading manager Steve Coppell:
"We can't complain that they didn't deserve it. I am at a loss to explain why we played so badly.

"They had the initiative once they scored the first goal. They looked solid and we never got near them.

"Not too many of my players have been in a relegation battle and we looked nervous.

"If we had got a good result then we would have been in a good position for the last four games."

• Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
"It was a good victory because we played well enough to deserve it and we hit the woodwork three times.

"We defended more solidly than last week and we kept them at bay.

"We would have a far better chance of staying up if there were eight or so games left.

"We have 12 points to fight for and this performance has given me hope that we might get some miraculous escape."

Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Oster (Little 60), Harper, Matejovsky (Cisse 77), Hunt, Doyle, Long (Kitson 60).
Subs Not Used: Federici, Sonko.

Fulham: Keller, Stalteri, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy (Andreasen 90), Dempsey (Bocanegra 85), Healy (Nevland 83), McBride.
Subs Not Used: Warner, Kamara.

Booked: Stalteri.

Goals: McBride 24, Nevland 90.

Att: 24,112.

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Simon Davies 7.95 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Saturday's football photos
12 Apr 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
12 Apr 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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