Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday February 24 2008
Ouch! That hurt!
There were we hoping that the West Ham fixture would provide us with three much needed points; instead we were on the end of a one goal defeat and a contentious goal as well.
The history books will show that Solano scored but those who were there; and those who subsequently saw the incident on television, will no doubt support Roy Hodgson`s claim that it shouldn`t have been allowed.
With three minutes to play, the dodgy goal never gave us a chance to recover and with us still adrift in the relegation zone with a tough fixture against Manchester United to come next week, it`s starting to look a little sticky!
For the fixture Hodgson gave Stalteri his home debut whilst Brian McBride was to start for the first time since his knee injury.
The opening exchanges saw Bullard play a prominent part. He seemed to be able to ghost around the pitch almost at will and West Ham had trouble picking him up. Indeed, but for a block by Ferdinand Bullard could have given us an early lead.
Unfortunately, West Ham soon started to up their game and slowly force Fulham onto the back foot. The impressive Noble drilled a free kick straight at Niemi whilst Carlton Cole also found the keeper with his volley.
As the half wore on a West Ham corner almost produced the first goal of the game, as it arrived in the box Ferdinand headed it down but Boa Morte only succeeded in sticking his effort over the bar.
West Ham were getting on top because we were becoming slack with regard to keeping possession with our passing. The game was starting to become frustrating, none more so than when Bullard drilled a free kick straight into the safe hands of Robert Green.
With the half drawing to a close, the impetus had switched again. Fulham had regained the initiative and McBride and Dempsey both saw good efforts blocked.
Unusually for Fulham, we`d picked up three yellow cards in the first half, cards issued to Hangeland, Andreasen and Murphy.
Neither manager made any changes for the start of the second half and once again it was to be Fulham that started the better. Stalteri and Bullard combined to create a chance that was hit straight at Green before Hangeland headed over the bar when well placed.
West Ham, urged on by the impressive work of Noble, slowly started to make inroads and Cole had a shot well blocked by Hughes. With the players starting to tire, Fulham almost caught West Ham off guard when a long clearance saw Dempsey engineer a chance but once again the shot could only find the arms of Green.
The action was switching from end to end and Cole headed a Solano cross straight at Niemi before Andreasen saw a shot blocked. Hughes almost misjudged a back pass but Niemi reacted smartly before Johnson, on for his debut, smashed a shot well wide.
Then came just as we`d all settled for a 0-0 draw, that fateful moment in the 87th minute. Lucas Neill saw his cross chested down by Boa Morte into the paha of Solano. Niemi looked to have blocked it but a crunching collision saw Solano foul the keeper and to add insult to injury, Solano knocked the ball over the line with his elbow.
Andreasen went ballistic and received a yellow card for dissent, as it was his second of the game he was off and will now miss valuable matches.
Is it any wonder we now believe 'Lady Luck` deserted us long ago?
Date:Sunday February 24 2008
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