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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 23:04 GMT
Saha sees off Derby challenge
Louis Saha set Fulham on course for a mouth-watering quarter-final tie with Liverpool with a last-gasp winner to settle a cracking Worthington Cup fourth-round tie.
Derby had taken the lead on 12 minutes through Malcolm Christie but the home side levelled through Saha on 27 minutes and Eddie Lewis put them deservedly in front on 38 minutes.
Darryl Powell's intended cross turned into a pretty effective shot in the tricky breeze as Fulham goalkeeper Maik Taylor completely misjudged the swirling effort to put the Premiership strugglers in level at half-time.
But just as extra-time beckoned Saha rose highest to send a looping header over Mart Poom from Bjarne Goldbaek's free-kick for his second of the night and 20th goal of the season.
It was difficult to tell the difference in status between Premiership strugglers Derby and First Division leaders Fulham.
But the visitors had the first effort on target when Craig Burley tested Taylor from long range and the home keeper took two attempts to grasp the slippery ball.
Derby took the lead after 12 minutes when Branko Strupar, making his first appearance since a double hernia operation, played a superbly-weighted through ball for Christie to run on to and calmly beat Taylor.
The home side almost levelled within a minute before having penalty appeals after Saha tangled with Taribo West in the area waved away by the referee.
England international Seth Johnson then conceded a free-kick after a late lunge on Nicolas Sahnoun.
From the resulting free-kick Saha climbed highest in the area to head in Bjarne Goldbaek's centre with Poom stranded after coming off his line and failing to collect.
That breathed new life into the home side and on 31 minutes Barry Hayles brought an acrobatic save from Poom after a powerful run and left-foot shot that the Estonian international turned away for a corner.
Derby almost took a freak lead at the other end when Danny Higginbotham's harmless-looking cross drifted on the breeze and floated across the face of goal as everyone stood and watched.
Thankfully for the home side the Derby players were just as guilty of ball watching and they paid a heavy price as Fulham swiftly broke to the other end of the pitch.
Goldbaek was again heavily involved before Fabrice Fernandes fed Lewis on the edge of the area and he buried a left-foot shot into the corner past a despairing Poom.
Poom then kept the visitors in the match with a breathtaking save from Hayles' point-blank effort from Lewis' cut-back before Derby's equaliser.
Powell intended a cross to the far post with but it turned into a shot which beat Taylor.
Strupar was unable to come out for the second half and was replaced by Deon Burton as Jim Smith went all out for the win.
Derby could well have taken the lead just eight minutes into the second period when Johnson's cross found Delap unmarked at the far post but he scuffed his shot with the goal at his mercy.
Fulham had another penalty appeal turned down when West obstructed Goldbaek in the area.
Derby chances then saw Higginbotham shoot straight at Taylor, a Burton effort go wide and Taylor then sprinted from his line to bravely save at the feet of Johnson after Higginbotham's superb through ball.
At the other end Saha brought another fine save from Poom as time ran out and it looked as though the crowd were in for another 30 minutes.
But with virtually the last kick of the game Saha connected with Goldbaek's free-kick to send a looping header over the despairing Poom.
Fulham: Taylor, W. Collins, Melville, Symons, Trollope, Sahnoun, Goldbaek, Lewis, Fernandes, Saha, Hayles. Subs: Hahnemann, Finnan, Coleman, Clark, Boa Morte.
Derby: Poom, Powell, Delap, Burley, Johnson, Christie, Higginbotham, Riggott, Bragstad, Strupar, West. Subs: Burton, Morris, Martin, Eranio, Oakes.
Referee: P Jones (Loughborough)
Other top Worthington Cup stories:
Links to top Worthington Cup stories are at the foot of the page.
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