|"Just go out there and enjoy your football lads"|
God only knows what Big Sam said at half time but within moments of the start of the second half his side had signalled their intent and Momo Diame smashed through the Fulham defence before unleashing a smashing drive into the right hand corner of the Fulham net. And so ended a dismal run of misfortune and poor play from the Bubbles boyz.
The first half had started brightly for West Ham who dominated early exchanges and the once again unfortunate Maiga smashing a header off the bar! Then Fulham carved out some possession and the game trundled forwards with the occasional effort for each side but without a goal. For West Ham Kevin Nolan missed one he would normally bury (before this season that is!) . Fulham almost unlocked the Hammers defence as Darren Bent almost got free but for the canny, if somewhat illegal, intervention of the returning George McCartney. Fulham looked nervous at set pieces but otherwise the over keen Hammers frequently fluffed their chances – epitomised by a sequence of slips and poor touches by Matt Jarvis. And so came half time. Hmmm.
Then the second half kicked into life with Diame’s excellent strike and the Hammers seized the game, and hopefully their season, by the scruff of the neck. Soon after, Maiga made some space with his trademark swivel and Stekelenberg could only palm it away to Stewart Downing, who made some space before ballooning the ball over from 5 yards! Hmmm. Not to worry, for the Hammers tails were up as Tomkins and then moments later, Jarvis had good chanced with headers. Jol tried to change it worth some substitutions and Big Sam followed suit, replacing Jarvis and Nolan with Morrison and Joe Cole - who immediately made an impact with two excellent efforts, one of which bounced back off the bar!
And so we wondered, another Spurs or would we see grasp defeat from victory like at Carrow Road? The answer soon came as within moments of entering the fray, Carlton ‘Killer’ Cole extended his excellent record against Fulham by tapping in from 3 yards after a well worked move with Downing who was excellent throughout.
Worryingly for Fulham, they were unable to mount any meaningful response and with two minutes of normal time remaining, Joe Cole smacked one in after a nice work with Ravel Morrison. Fulham looked demoralised, while the Hammers look forward to the next encounter with a Crystal Palace side who saw their recent winning streak of one game ended at Carrow Road.
Jaaskelainen: Back to his reliable self but hardly troubled as Fulham could not manage a single shot on target! . 7/10
Demel: Strong in defence, enthusiastic coming forward and made a few of his swashbuckling runs 7/10
Tomkins: Who will be sacrificed when Reid returns? Hard to tell on this performance as Tomkins was solid throughout and also posed a major threat at set pieces. Could’ve been punished more by a twitchy ref for a foolish first half tackle. 7/10
Collins: Ginge quietly gets on with his job, making block after block. 7/10
McCartney: Great to see him back, what he lacks in pace he has in smarts! 6/10
Jarvis: Energetic but looks too hurried and wasted a number of good chances in both halves. 6/10
Diame: Big presence throughout and added another impressive strike to his collection. His strength both in defence and attack was crucial in suffocating the Fulham midfield pairing of Parker and Sidwell. 8/10
Noble; Fairly quiet by his usual hyperactive standards but solid throughout. 6/10
Downing: Probably our best wide player this season? Always looking to create and should have opened his account with a good chance early in the second half. 8/10
Nolan: Hmmmm. Again missed a good chance he would normally slot away. Replaced by Morrison with 15 minutes remaining…..a glimpse of the future perhaps? 6/10
Maiga: Desperately unlucky again on a number of occasions and you’ve got to admire his courage. Surprisingly effective aerial presence at times. 6/10.
Morrison: lively. Why wasn’t he on from the start? Doubtless he’ll be thinking the same! 7/10
C. Cole: You gotta love him – unless you are a Fulham fan! His goal may be a big moment for our season! 7/10
J. Cole: Talk of his leaving is media-driven nonsense. Downing and Cole for the wide positions? 8/10.