Filed: Sunday, 15th February 2004
By: Graeme Howlett
How the various papers and websites saw the Hammers' FA Cup fifth round goalless draw with Fulham ...
Edwin Van Der Sar's super show denied First Division West Ham a quarter-final berth in the FA Cup. The Fulham stopper was in superb form to deny the Hammers as they attempt to become the first team outside the top flight to win the cup since they achieved the feat in 1980.
Roared on by an enthusiastic travelling support of 3,000 Alan Pardew's men did everything but score at Loftus Road. And the West Ham boss warned Fulham to expect a similar onslaught in the replay at Upton Park on Tuesday week.
Fulham boss Coleman was less than impressed by some of his players.
He said: "We were inept. There are no excuses for that performance. We were dead lucky and could have come off losing 2-0 or 3-0.
"We were poor again and without van der Sar - who had a terrific game - we would be out of the FA Cup and I couldn’t have had any complaints.
"Edwin was far too busy and it’ll be harder at Upton Park.
"The thing is that wasn’t even West Ham’s strongest team. They had a lot of players missing. I had some strong words after the game and now it’s up to me to shake it up."
Edwin Van Der Sar produced a brilliant display to deny West Ham a place in the last eight as Premiership Fulham were outplayed at Loftus Road. The former Juventus keeper pulled off at least four top-drawer saves to thwart Alan Pardew's side and save Fulham from an embarrassing home defeat.
The Hammers will feel they missed out on a great chance of winning the tie after showing they can still match the top-flight teams.
Alan Pardew said: "It was great to see Michael perform like that. He was the best player on the pitch. It would be nice to see him get in the England squad. It's ironic that Jermain Defoe leaves and immediately gets called into the England set-up.
"Michael has been fantastic. He missed pre-season and struggled at the start of the campaign. But he's been excellent in the last four or five games. He's in the top four or five midfielders in the country."
The result nobody wanted, but both teams can draw very different conclusions. Nominal underdogs West Ham United outplayed their hosts from the first minute when Marlon Harewood was left alone to fire Matthew Etherington’s cross at Edwin van der Sar, to the last, when Neil Mellor shot tamely at the Dutchman. Now the replay will add clutter to their promotion run-in. Fulham, meanwhile, must wonder where their once promising season is heading.
Superfit and unyielding in the tackle, United chased every lost cause, broke like whippets and, with Sven-Göran Eriksson looking on, they had the midfield fulcrum through whom almost all their good work passed in Michael Carrick. As Pardew noted, Carrick was the tie’s outstanding contributor: “He is one of the top midfielders in the country and he was outstanding today.
“We had some great chances,” admitted Pardew of a team who remain unbeaten away from home since October. “And a lot of our players had outstanding games. We’ve got a great spirit at the club now, all we have to do is keep it going.”
Sven-Goran Eriksson, spending Valentine's Day in the directors box without Nancy, looked as if his mind was wandering on to other things, possibly something red and overflowing with passion (not Gary Neville).
This was not an afternoon for romance. Not with Edwin van der Sar spoiling in such relentless fashion. West Ham had played with sufficient boldness and ambition to merit progress into the last eight, but they had to make do with a replay.
This is even more remarkable considering their target man Brian Deane laboured around the pitch in what looked like a near catatonic state, which was as fast as his 36 year old legs would carry him. What a difference a Jermain Defoe, or perhaps either of the cup-tied new boys Bobby Zamora or Adam Nowland might have made. But, on this supremely stubborn form, a combination of Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy would have struggled to find a way past Van der Sar.
Bywater distinguished himself with an impressive save of his own to stop Sylvain Legwinski's last-minute daisycutter, then West Ham broke and were furious Poll would not play the advantage when Etherington raced clear and Harewood's shirt was clumsily pulled. Fulham will not be looking forward to the return on Tuesday week.
West Ham's FA Cup dream is still very much alive after a battling 0-0 draw at Premiership Fulham in the fifth round on Saturday afternoon.
In a hard-fought and even encounter at Loftus Road, Alan Pardew's men gave another splendid account of themselves away from home and deserved at least the replay that will take place at Upton Park on Tuesday, February 24.
With no fewer than six players ineligible, the Hammers boss had been forced to reshuffle his side following last week's victory at Bradford City.
After Marlon Harewood's surging run had been crudely halted by a defender, the ball ran on to release Etherington clear on goal, but referee Graham Poll failed to spot the advantage and brought the play back for a free-kick - much to the annoyance of everyone in a claret and blue shirt.
That didn't take away from another stirring Hammers' performance, though, and Pardew's men will return to Upton Park for the replay confident they can get the job done at the second time of asking.
Fulham boss Chris Coleman had switched to a 4-4-2 formation for this tie and the line-up gave them greater numbers up front. However, their attacking threat - which peaked when Carlos Bocanegra hit the post with a freakish 28th-minute attempt - became almost non-existent as this game wore on.
At half-time, I told the players 'don't accept a draw.'
"And with 10 minutes and then five minutes left I told them 'don't sit back and settle for taking them back to Upton Park.'
"We had some great chances and shaded it on chances. Some of our players had outstanding games and Fulham's goalkeeper did very well.
"My players have been out to prove every week that they're better than everyone else in the First Division. We're setting standards and have to improve on them."
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