Tuesday, October 5

Only one F in Fulham

West Ham 1 Fulham 1

What’s this? Upton Park tube station is open... The surreal atmosphere created by a functioning London Underground station is accentuated by another seismic shock on Green Street. Ken’s Café is closed due to a family wedding.

The Incas must have felt the same when their gods and human sacrifices failed to deliver them from the Spanish invaders. All the old certainties have vanished. The centre fails to hold, things fall apart. Ken’s is never closed on a match day.

This tealess Iron walks to the Newham Bookshop for a chat with John. Sad news is the passing of Gilda O’Neil, the writer of My East End and several novels. She was always a friendly presence at Newham Bookshop events and a proper old Eastender.

At least the regular contingent is back in the stadium. Fraser’s recovering from a trapped nerve in his neck — possibly from watching Robert Green pick the ball out of West Ham’s net 12 times in the first four games.

Dyer's out with a week-long case of the runs, so Barrera plays on the right wing. We start off reasonably well, with Noble having another fine game and Da Costa looking sharp at the back. But as the game progresses we slip into a strange lethargy. Sours gave us space to play, but against a Fulham side that keeps its shape, we struggle. Balls skid away on a wet surface and after last week’s fine performance we look disjointed again.

Piquionne has a header cleared off the line, but Obinna and Piquionne don’t look as mobile as they did against Spurs. The referee turns down what looks a good penalty appeal by Fulham when Pederson nudges Johnson in the box.

On 33 minutes Fulham take the lead. Davies’ pass takes a lucky deflection into the path of Dempsey, who has lost Upson and chips expertly over Green. Oh well, at least Robert wasn’t at fault this time.

Early in the second half Dempsey strikes the bar. It’s a let off and two minutes later we equalise. Hangeland passes out of defence straight to Boa Morte, who plays in Obinna on the left. Victor crosses and Piquionne scores with a confident header.

We should be going for the winner now, but instead the Hammers fade. The crowd gets frustrated with the ref and chant “Who’s the wanker in the blue?”, but really we can’t blame the ref.

Fulham should win it. Green saves well at Dempsey’s feet and then gets down brilliantly to parry Etuhu’s header.

Barrera shoots wildly when well placed for us, but Gabbidon is starting to look out of position at left back and we can’t get our passing game going at all. Cole comes on for Barrera, immediately shooting wide, and we play with a three-pronged attack

“I’ll be happy with a point out of this,” says Nigel."It's like under Curbishley when we'd score and then get worse."

It’s too much for the Vicar’s Son next to us: “Why can’t they stand up?… What is f•••ing happening? What is wrong with Gabbidon?… What’s the point of having Ilunga on the bench? It’s like watching Zola not doing anything until they score… What is the point of bringing on Stanislas with three minutes to go?’

We hold on to keep our unbeaten run of four games going, although we’re now bottom again on goal difference.

After the final whistle Grant is surprisingly upbeat after the game, saying he’s surprised by the speed of our improvement and in a piece of Panglossian spin claiming we almost won the game.

Still, with five points we’re certainly better off than a fortnight ago. There’s a fortnight’s international break and then winnable games against Wolves, Newcastle, Birmingham, West Brom and Blackpool to come.

By December we should know if we’re in for a relegation struggle or not.


Phil_M said...

Lovely summary. Just how I felt watching the game, but could never express it half so well. I'd really like to know (like most Hammers fans) why we couldn't perform against Fool-ham in the same spirited way we did against Spuds. We didn't start off half so energetic and hungry as we did the previous week.

Pete May said...

Thanks for the praise...

Yes, the change to lethargy after the Spurs game was astonishing, although typically West Ham — able to raise our game against the bigger sides but not the Fulhams. If I'm charitable it could have been the greasy pitch and the legacy of Hodgson making Fulham so difficult to break down. Although we did aim every ball at Hangeland.

Matthew said...

I'm still reeling from the shock of Ken's being closed for the surely euphimistic "Family Wedding", as much as the lethargy in the performance. I was worried about buying my programme somewhere else in case Carol jumped out and shouted at me . Not sure Don P' s description of Obinna as "the best signing since Di Canio" on the podcast passed examination with the naked eye either.