to be separated by stewards. Roy Hodgson, the Fulham manager, confirmed that his Ghanaian right-back was complaining of verbal abuse.
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This was not only the only complaint Hodgson had to level, as Fulham were denied after 90 minutes of dominance. 'It's your worst nightmare in football, losing in the final minute, and for the first time in a while it has happened to me,' he said. Phil Brown, Hodgson's opposite number, was understandably subdued, too. With only the tenacity of Hull's defending saving them from Fulham pressure, he said: 'We have played much better than that and lost.'
Brown was quieter than usual last night, spending much of the match in the directors' box, but allowed himself a subtle fist-pump of vindication after two players he had sent on combined for the winning goal. Manucho, the Angolan striker on loan from Manchester United, applied the decisive blow when he drove home a cross from Richard Garcia in injury time. No public shows of dissent could be made against Brown's decision-making this time, not like that of Geovanni last Sunday, when the Brazilian playmaker had objected to being replaced.
Seasons can turn upon the kind of good fortune they encountered here, although Brown claims never to have been affected by Hull's abject second half of the season, saying: 'The Premier League is not a charity.' Although Hull were better organised, they were under siege before Manucho's late riposte. Fulham could have climbed to seventh with the victory they deserved; instead they were left licking their wounds.
Hull fans were vociferous in backing Geovanni, the player Brown had so publicly excoriated for his petulance. Not for the first time, he represented Hull's greatest attacking threat.
Fulham, frustrated, probed for an opening. Clint Dempsey was a creative influence, neatly slipping through Paul Konchesky, who crossed for Andy Johnson to meet with a flying, if errant header. Hull were relying on massed defence, but Matt Duke was untested until the second half, when he tipped over a shot from Johnson. Fulham had a speculative penalty claim moments later, when Kevin Kilbane wrapped himself around Bobby Zamora as he tried to deal with Konchesky's cross.
Despite protests from home fans, referee Jones appeared correct not to award the penalty, instead waving play on to allow Dempsey to hit the foot of the post from close range.
As Fulham ratcheted up the pressure even Konchesky was tempted to try his luck, drawing another fine save from the Hull goalkeeper with his long-range effort. Hull were besieged, and it was all Bernard Mendy could do to clear off the line from Johnson's header. There was still time for Duke to deny Dempsey once more, which at least elicited a smile from Brown. That smile became all the broader for Manucho.