Thursday, January 2

There's only one F in Fulham

Fulham 2 West Ham 1

At least the pre-match Powerhouse Porter is excellent in the Crabtree after a rain-drenched walk down Fulham Palace Road. Fraser eyes up the £51 South Australian chardonnay and wonders if it can compete with the Central’s. We're joined by Matt and Lisa, Twickenham Irons Tim and Dave with  their sons and also my old school friend Mark who has dyed his beard claret and blue – a move he may regret in the Fulham end if they set their butlers on him.

In row ZZ there are still balls lodged from Bobby Zamora’s shots and we have fine views of the rain wafting over London and the Thames threatening to inundate the stadium.

West Ham have three out-of-position centre backs in Diarra, O’Brien and McCartney plus wing-backs in Taylor and Demel. It all starts well for the Hammers. Fulham’s defence looks vulnerable after letting in six against Hull and fails to deal with a free kick from Jaaskelainen. Diame is given time to turn and shoot home after seven minutes. It should be two when Diame’s cross is met by Nolan, whose header is saved by the feet of Stockdale.

But Scott Parker digs in and Berbatov and Taarabt start to show skill in the quagmire as Fulham come back into it. Maiga heads off the line from a corner. If it can wrong it will go wrong. Mark Noble pulls up after 32 minutes and has to go off with an injury. That's nine players out. Immediately after Rat comes on Fulham equalise with a simple header from a corner as Sidwell outjumps McCartney. A minute later Taarabt shows good technique to turn and hit the post.

Just as we seem be coming back into it, the game turns on Nolan’s sending off. He’s blocked by Amorebieta and pushes him over, possibly aiming a kick too. He doesn’t appear to actually touch his face but with a referee like Clattenberg why give him the opportunity to send you off? The incident is on the halfway line and it’s utterly stupid from Nolan, particularly after his needless red card at Anfield. Now we have to play the entire second half with ten men.

The rain and gloomy sky match our mood at half-time. West Ham lack belief throughout the second half and it’s all Fulham. Jaskelainen produces fine saves from Riise and Taarabt before Parker’s mishit shot turns into a pass to the unmarked Berbatov who pokes the ball home.

"How shit must you be we're winning at home!" chant the Fulham fans. The West Ham fans respond with "You're nothing special, we lose every week!"

The Irons show an alarming lack of technique, even if it is the squad players, with passes being hoofed into touch and there’s open mutiny among the away fans. When Diame is taken off for Downing Allardyce is serenaded with “You don’t know what you’re doing!” and there are chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning! and “Fuck off Sam Allardyce!” - which don’t appear to be cockney banter.

There’s a bloke in front is us going absolutely mental: “That’s it Allardyce, bring on another left back! Just stand there being fat and waving your arms around. This is f***ing rubbish! That’s right, keep it down for the goal difference look at your f***ing stats!” Must be a vicar’s son.

Downing doe threaten with a dangerous cross but doesn't get much of the ball. There’s a late rally in the last ten minutes as a header goes wide and Hammers force a corner. But it’s all too late and we’ve lost another six-pointer. Apart from the rain, terrible conditions, injuries, sending off and defeat everything else has gone well. Can Allardyce survive this? It’s starting to look desperate.

Team Ratings: Jaaskelainen 7, Demel 5, McCartney 5, Diarra 5 O'Brien 5, Taylor 5, Noble 6, Diame 6, Nolan 3, Collison 5, Maiga 5.


Anonymous said...

Nice read, but am completely baffled by your team ratings.

Jussi was absolutely appalling only slightly better than O'Brien and Rat who should not deserve more than 3 out of 10. McCartney was slightly better but not much. Taylor was arguably the best player out there in Claret and Blue apart from Downing when he came on.

Team Ratings: Jaaskelainen 4, Demel 5, McCartney 4, Diarra 6 O'Brien 3, Taylor 7, Noble 5, Diame 6, Nolan 3, Collison 6, Maiga 5, Rat 3, Downing 6, Cole 5

Pete May said...

Admittedly my view was from row ZZ of the Putney Stand, but Jussi did a couple of good saves at the start of the second half and had a bunch of strangers in front of them. Thought Taylor tried hard but didn't have a great game while I didn't give Rat a rating as a sub. Agree Downing looked skilful when he came on but didn't get a lot of the ball. But generally an off day for the whole team in terrible conditions.

Pete May said...

But on reflection perhaps a little harsh on Taylor and Collison so maybe I'll up them to a 5 as no worse than the rest…