Fulham 0 West Ham United 1
Wednesday, 23rd October 2002
by Dickie Thornton
The evening started off great with a portion of pre-match fish 'n chips from a beauty of a chippy near Sheppards Bush. Having consumed those delights I had a feeling it would be a good night.Met up with a couple more mates and got to the ground and made our way to seats in the top tier. Now, I hope its not just me when I say that mini-me from Austin Powers would look big in that stadium. Talk about no room to swing a cat.
Atmosphere was okay but not helped by what seemed a complete no-show from Fulham fans combined with some shocking music blaring from the speakers, what can only be described as very bad 'cuts' from Classic FM.
With the sound of Mozart & co still ringing in my ears the action
began. West Ham started off with the same side that beat Sunderland with the exception of Cisse in for the injured Lomas, a move which I for one was pleased with (my view had changed by the end of the night though along with the majority of the other 4,000 Hammers fans there it would seem).
Defoe looked lively from the start and his performance started to rub off on the others, most notably Carrick in centre midfield and Ian Pearce, who was again a rock at centre-back. Some would say he needed to be, considering he was playing alongside Repka, who again got himself booked for a silly foul when he should of cleared his lines but instead hauled down Boa Morte.
As the first half went on, West Ham grew in confidence and carved out good openings from some crisp passing and mistakes from Fulham's tall but sluggish defenders. Defoe went close with a volley and scored what looked like a good goal from a Cole pass until it was ruled out for offside. Having seen the replays on TV it looked a harsh decision although Rodent surprisingly agreed with both the ref and linesman.
Other chances fell to Di Canio and one to Cole, after a mazy dribble around three or four bamboozled Fulham players. Fulham for their part looked very average with little bite upfront and some dreadful distribution from Zat Knight in particular, who's night was to get worse as the evening drew on.
The half time whistle went and the mood was good in the Hammers end after a positive and controlled first half. This was all changed very quickly though as West Ham tried their best to turn in a Jeykl & Hyde performance.
Fulham had West Ham on the back foot for much of the second half but only created one real 'half-chance' which was successfully snuffed out by my Man of the Match, Ian Pearce. The game become a non-event really for long periods in the second half and both teams looked happy to settle for a point as the 90 minutes was nearly up.
That was before a long pass out from West Ham's defence was not dealt with by Fulham's centre-backs allowing Defoe to cut inside into the box and take an extra touch past the donkey-like
Knight who gave away as clear-cut a penalty as you are likely to see.
West Ham fans went mad but then remembered the Kanoute miss from earlier in the season and calmed down a bit. Only one man was going to take the penalty and this time Di Canio chose not to do his trademark chip finish but hit a sweet shot into the bottom right hand corner past the unlucky Van Der Saar, who had been Fulham's best player all night.
The goal was followed by scenes of delirious celebration, taking off of shirts, bundling, jumping and gesticulating - and that was just from Paulo himself.
Ian Pearce was a rock in defence and hopefully has finally cemented his place as our first choice centre-back. Other successes were Carrick who worked tirelessly and displayed a great range of passing at times, Defoe who looked as lively as a ferret in baggy trousers and Di Canio and Cole who linked up well and showed the usual array of tricks and skill as well as hard work and graft.
The big disappointment on the night was Cisse, who lived up to his name with an inept showing and will surely be replaced by Lomas if he is fit for Sunday.
The night was rounded off with a walk to White City station to find West Ham had taken over the place, singing 'Twist and Shout', 'Bubbles' and various other tunes all the way back to East London to the bemusement of random tube travellers on their way home from a night out.
Away games, who said they were never happy days for West Ham?
David James (an easy earned 7) To make a nice change, James had a quite time in terms of goalmouth action to deal with and what he did have to do he did with confidence.
Christian Dailly (a scraped 7) Poor distribution and got caught out in the second half at times but solid enough defensively.
Scott Minto (7) Another confident and assured performance from Minto who is looking like an ok player at last. Perhaps needs to get forward more at times.
Ian Pearce (9) Man of the Match and a tower at the heart of the Hammers defence. Good positional play combined with aggression, pace and confidence. The answer to our defensive problems is here.
Tomas Repka (7) Did well to stay on the pitch after picking up a silly booking early on. Must learn to keep out of trouble and not dive in. Improved in the second half.
Joe Cole (8) Lively showing from the boy-wonder with the usual skills on display. Not afraid of some graft either and worked well linking up with Di Canio, Defoe and Carrick.
Trevor Sinclair (7) Back on the left-side which no-one can fathom out but nevertheless had another good game. Maybe him having a new baby every week is the solution to this form?
Michael Carrick (7) Started off slowly but then found his feet and got his range of passing going. Got stuck in when needed and covered a lot of ground for Cisse in the second half.
Edouard Cisse (5) Disappointment in the middle of the park. Had a good start and then faded at an alarming rate. Early booking didn't help but needs to show more fight to command a regular place. Still time for him yet to make his mark.
Jermain Defoe (8) Should have had at least one goal which was chalked off and could of had another couple. Good movement, lively throughout and won the all important penalty.
Paolo Di Canio (9) Why a 9? Well, because I love the guy, he's God and thankfully he didn't chip the penalty like we all thought he would. Not sure how the bloke is ever going to play but what you do know is that its going to be fun to watch. Good work rate, silky skills and one hell of a celebration.
Subs - Don't think Glenn knows what these are. Looked bemused when he saw a Fulham player stroll on to replace another one. Spent all game wondering who the guys in West Ham training kits were sitting on the bench next to him.
Roeder Rating (7) Credit where credit is due. Two clean sheets on the trot and three away wins in a row. Team picked itself really though but tactics and attitude of players must be down in part to Roeder. Its not easy winning at other grounds in the Premiership, although evidently it is easier than winning at Upton Park.
West Ham United: James, Dailly, Pearce, Repka, Minto, Sinclair, Cisse, Carrick, Cole, Di Canio, Defoe.
Subs not used: Winterburn, Breen, Van Der Gouw, Garcia, Camara.
Fulham: Van der Sar, Finnan, Knight, Melville, Wome, Legwinski, Malbranque, Inamoto (Djetou 45), Boa Morte (Stolcers 78), Marlet, Hayles.
Subs not used: Collins, Taylor, Ouaddou.
Goals: Di Canio (87, pen).
Booked: Boa Morte, Marlet, Repka, Cisse, Dailly.
Sent Off: Knight.
Referee: Rob Styles.
KUMB Man of the Match: Ian Pearce (9)
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Match FactsWest Ham United: , , , , , , , , , , .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: .