Fulham 2 West Ham 1 match report: Sam Allardyce blames Kevin Nolan as Fulham fightback piles on the pressure

Hammers captain Nolan  was dismissed just before half-time

craven cottage

On the day his countrymen were being demonised in the popular prints Dimitar Berbatov ensured one Bulgarian would be granted positive headlines. His 66th-minute goal earned Fulham a narrow victory against relegation rivals West Ham. lifted them two points clear of the drop, and eased the pain of Saturday's 6-0 drubbing on Humberside.

For Hammers' manager Sam Allardyce, however, it was a disastrous day in which the promise of Mohamed Diame's early goal turned very sour. In seven decisive minutes late in the first half midfield linchpin Mark Noble limped off with a calf injury, Steve Sidwell levelled, and skipper Kevin Nolan was sent off. Given the subsequent pressure Berbatov's winner was inevitable.

Allardyce was furious at the dismissal of Nolan who has played more than 400 matches for him having spent ten of his 14 years in the game under Allardyce. Nolan, 31, was dismissed for a needless kick at Fernando Amorebeira near the halfway line.

“He is responsible for us losing the game more than anybody else, there's no doubt about that,” said Allardyce. “I don't understand why he lost his cool. [Amorebieta] obstructed him, fouled him, but that is not an excuse for what he did. You can expect that from a youngster finding his way in the game, but not Kevin.”

This is Nolan's second red card in a month – he was dismissed for stamping on Jordan Henderson's calf at Anfield – and Allardyce added: “I need to find out what is wrong with him, something is wrong with his mentality at the minute. In the many years I have known him I have not seen this.”

Nolan will now be banned for four matches. With Noble injured (he will have a scan tomorrow) Allardyce, having spent most of the season lacking central strikers, and currently suffering such a shortage of central defenders he was unable to field one yesterday, now has a problem in central midfield as well.

West Ham are now three points adrift of safety and while Allardyce is not thought to be in immediate threat of the sack time is running out. He is likely to be backed in the transfer market, but only up to a point with deals such as the imminent one for Everton defender Johnny Heitinga. Hope is primarily pinned on the return of injured players. If results still fail to pick up Allardyce will probably be axed, but he is confident it will not come to that. “We're in a massive hole. We have to dig ourselves out of it and we'll start doing that when we have players available again.”

Kevin Nolan (far left) is shown the red card by referee Mark Clattenburg Kevin Nolan (far left) is shown the red card by referee Mark Clattenburg While Allardyce endured a grim start to 2014 Rene Mulensteen was relieved. The Dutchman, who now has not one, but two ex-managers on his 'support' staff in Alan Curbishley and Ray Wilkins, made seven changes from the team that, in his words, 'capitulated' at Hull. That the survivors included two defenders and a keeper suggested he thought the problems were not at the back.

The opening exchanges suggested he was mistaken. After seven minutes not only was Jussi Jaaskelainen's long free-kick allowed to bounce on the edge of the goal area – an unforgivable lapse, Diame was given time to control it, turn and score. Midway through the half Diame, again unchallenged, picked out the unmarked Nolan, but his header struck David Stockdale's shins as the 'keeper spread himself.

“That was a defining moment, as much as the sending off,” said Mulensteen. “Players are human, that could have drained [our confidence].

Fulham did look desperately short of belief, but so are West Ham and they retreated to protect their lead allowing the home side to settle. Allardyce had decided to solve his defensive crisis by playing five at the back with three players out of position in central defence. Alou Diarra, recalled to play in the middle of this makeshift backline, did very well but granting Fulham space inevitably meant they created chances. When Amorebieta beat Jaaskelainen to one Duff corner Modibo Maiga headed off the line, but Sidwell then evaded George McCartney to head in from another one.

Adel Taarabt hit the post as West Ham wobbled but they seemed to have regained their equilibrium when Nolan had his moment of madness, kicking out at Amorebieta as the Venezualan blocked him off near the halfway line. Thereafter is was all Fulham and though Jaaskelainen denied Riise and turned another Taarabt effort against the post the breakthough came when Alex Kacaniklic's cross was steered to Berbatov by Parker and thence into the goal.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Stockdale 7; Riether 7, Senderos 5, Amorebieta 5, Riise 7; Parker 7, Sidwell 7; Duff 6 (Kasami, 77), Taarabt 7 (Bent 4, 68), Richardson 6 (Kacaniklic 6, 56); Berbatov 7.

Substitutes: Bettinelli (gk), Hughes, Dejagah, Dembele.

West Ham United (5-3-1-1) Jaaskelainen 7; Demel 6, O'Brien 6, Diarra 7, McCartney 5, Taylor 6; Collison 6, Noble 6 (Rat, 36), Diame 7 (Downing 6, 56); Nolan 3; Maiga 6(C Cole 6, 68).

Substitutes not used: Adrian (gk), Jarvis, J Cole, Potts.

Referee: M Clattenburg.

Man of the match: Berbatov

Match rating: 6/10

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments