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Premiership
Saturday, 13th January 2007

West Ham United 3
Fulham 3

by Jacob Steinberg


Six goals, a red card and Graham Poll- exciting stuff. Yet still West Ham fans left Upton Park utterly deflated, after Phillipe Christanval's first goal for Fulham deep into injury time denied them what would have been an invaluable win in their battle to beat the drop.

Following the New Year's Day massacre at Reading, this match was billed as make or break for West Ham. Victory would renew hope and attract potential signings, while defeat would spell disaster. With new signings Luis Boa Morte- lining up against the club he captained little over a week ago- and Nigel Quashie given starts in midfield, there was cause for optimism.

However that quickly disappeared, as an already makeshit defence was further weakened through injury to James Collins, before Carlos Tevez, showing obvious discomfort after an early foul by Christanval, departed too. Minutes later Fulham led, and regular observers of West Ham's defence were not surprised that the goal came from a corner, Tomas Radzinski bundling in Heider Helguson's header.

It was shoddy marking, to say the least. But West Ham hit back. Their character has been called into question often this season, it was out in force yesterday, and the home side were rewarded when Bobby Zamora ran on to Carlton's Cole flick-on, shrugged of Christanval and finished past Jans Lastuvka.

The equaliser invigorated West Ham and Boa Morte should have made better contact at the far post from Yossi Benayoun's cross, before a delivery from the left evaded Zamora's head, while Wayne Routeledge fired just wide for Fulham. West Ham could not be contained for long though, and they were ahead straight after the restart.

Zamora's through ball found Benayoun on the left of the area. The little Israeli had much to do, but reminiscent of his effort against Fulham last year, he chipped a curling shot over Lastuvka's head, and into the top corner- an inspired piece of skill from the best player on the pitch.

Again the lead did not last long though, Moritz Volz finding space on the left and crossing for Brian McBride to power a free header past Roy Carroll. It was bewildering that a player of McBride's class in the air should have been left alone in the box, but then, that is why West Ham are where they are.

Despite their lowly position however and the setback of being pegged back, they remained persistent and when a mix up between Christanval and Carlos Bocanegra presented Benayoun with another chance, there was to be only one outcome. Benayoun rounded Latuvka with ease, resisted the urge to go down and finished well.

Enter Poll, clearly feeling the West Ham midfielder was beginning to upstage him. He had already enraged Boa Morte for allowing Fulham's roughing up of him to go unchecked, and when Zamora, already booked, launched into a eager but late challenge, Poll's moment was there and the red card was flashed.

Despite their man disadvantage, it seemed that West Ham would still hold out for the three points- yet Poll was to further infuriate them with a bewildering five minutes of stoppage time. By this point, West Ham's defence was missing Danny Gabbidon, who had also succumbed to injury.

Benayoun cleared a Quedrue header off the line, Carroll smothered a shot from Christanval. But finally, inevitably, a goal came. West Ham were unable to clear the ball, it fell to Christanval and this time his finish was sent unerringly into the corner. Two points dropped for West Ham. They could prove vital. They probably will.



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Player Ratings

Roy Carroll
I'm not sure why he plays ahead of Green- I'd assumed last week was just a run out, and I remain unconvinced about Carroll, although anyone would given what was playing in front of him. But his distribution is poor, he doesn't really command the area and even his shot stopping is fairly average.


Christian Dailly
I thought he had a good game, although he's always on the brink of disaster. Realistically he is not good enough, and it's always worrying when he looks better than others.


George McCartney
I thought he was abysmal. From the needless first corner, to simply his hesitancy in defence... I prefer Konchesky, and that's saying something!


James Collins
Clearly not fit. A centre half appears a must after today.


Danny Gabbidon
A good game, yet these injuries are so frustrating.


Nigel Quashie
He couldn't trap a bag of cement and his set pieces are poor. But he has energy, gets stuck in and is a driving force. Again, I'd like to see one more signing here, but for 1.5m, he was ok.


Nigel Reo-Coker
Now I know we all hate him, and so do I, but his attitude was spot on today and I thought he battled hard. Personally I think he lacks ability and did today, but credit where credit's due, he did the simple things. I still don't want to see him in the side though.


Yossi Benayoun
That was his best game of the season. He oozed class - shame it's come in January.


Luis Boa Morte
Should have scored twice. I like his battling qualities, but feel that Fulham more or less kicked him out of the game. I haven't mentioned how much I hate them, their horrible tactics, Michael Brown, that French left back, their manager, Michael Brown and their fan. It's A LOT.


Carlton Cole
Lacks quality and vision- but he's awkward, set up a goal and tries hard. I think he was holding his hamstring as the lone striker, perhaps explaining the less than 100% effort then though...


Carlos Tevez
Terrified them once, then got injured in the same move. Oh well.


Substitutes


Jonathan Spector
(Replaced Collins, 11) Abysmal. He had no positional sense, couldn't handle their attack at all and his heading was atrocious.


Bobby Zamora
(Replaced Tevez, 13) Cup your ear to the fans will you? Why I oughta... Clearly a legend in his own mind, although he took his goal well. One of his better games, but really, with Poll on the pitch he should have known better.


Shaun Newton
(Replaced Gabbidon, 81) Please join me in a prayer for him never ever to play right back again.


Robert Green
Did not play.


Hayden Mullins
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: G.Poll.

Attendance: 34,977.

Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun.

West Ham United

Roy Carroll, Christian Dailly, George McCartney, James Collins, Danny Gabbidon, Nigel Quashie, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole, Carlos Tevez.

Goals: Bobby Zamora 28 Yossi Benayoun 46 Yossi Benayoun 64              .

Booked: Nigel Reo-Coker 35 Carlton Cole 90        .

Sent Off: Bobby Zamora 76    .

Fulham

Lastuvka, Volz, Rosenior, Christanval, Bocanegra, Queudrue, Brown, Routledge, Helguson, McBride, Radzinski.

Substitutes: Montella (Helguson 67).

Subs not used: Warner, Pearce, Omuzusi, Runstrom.

Goals: Radzinski (17), McBride (59), Christanval (90).

Booked: Christanval (6), Queudrue (22), Rosenior (38), Helguson (67), Bocanegra (77), Routledge (84).

Sent Off: None sent off..

 
Jacob Steinberg's Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun


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