Good fortune can't hide Hammers' failings
West Ham United 2 Fulham 2
Monday 05 October 2009
Whatever West Ham are suffering from it isn't bad luck – well, not if yesterday's match is anything to go by.
Fortunate to see the opposition reduced to 10 men by the controversial sending-off of Fulham's Kagisho Dikgacoi in the first half they then pinched a point they hardly deserved with an injury-time deflected equaliser from substitute Junior Stanislas. Fittingly, it wasn't enough to lift them out of the bottom three.
Up until the moment Stanislas' shot struck Aaron Hughes' knee before looping over Mark Schwarzer in goal, the Hammers had been staring at a third defeat in all three home league games this season. Losing to Liverpool and Tottenham may have been just about excusable, but against a Fulham side that have struggled to rediscover last season's momentum, who were a goal as well a man down by the end of the first half, surely they should be good enough to register a first home win. Alas, no.
Gianfranco Zola was disappointed with his side's response to Fulham's equaliser in the first minute of the second half. "The whole team lost faith and belief," he said. "I don't like that kind of attitude, I really hate it."
It was the dismissal of Dikgacoi for either an elbow or head-butt – no one was too sure – in the face of West Ham's Scott Parker that really irked Fulham's manager Roy Hodgson – a little strange because his team were a better side with 10 men than 11. "I come from a generation where violent conduct is violent," he said. "I have a problem getting my head around two players nose-to-nose and one of them is sent off for violent conduct."
It was unfortunate for Dikgacoi that the referee Philip Dowd chose to consult one of his assistants rather than the watching American wrestling legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Wrestlers know a thing about phony wars and no doubt Austin would have put him wise. It was only after protests from Parker, incensed about being shown a yellow card for his part in the bust-up, that Dowd conferred with his linesman and came to his decision.
Zola said he "smelt" something was wrong early on – "it was too easy". Maybe it was the sight of Carlton Cole heading West Ham ahead after 16 minutes. The Hammers had lost every match in which Cole had scored this season, four in all. Even so, the big man did well to beat the even bigger Brede Hangeland to the near-post header after Alessandro Diamanti floated in the free-kick.
Zola's terrible premonition started to unravel a minute after half-time when Matthew Upson was adjudged to have fouled Diomansy Kamara and Danny Murphy converted the penalty. Ten minutes later, Hangeland atoned for his earlier error when he stood his ground as Paul Konchesky's corner came over to give Zoltan Gera a simple far-post conversion.
West Ham United (4-1-4-1): Green; Faubert, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga; Parker (Behrami, 71); Diamanti, Noble, Jimenez, Hines (Stanislas, 71); Cole. Substitutes not used: Spector, Da Costa, Nouble, Payne, Kurucz (gk).
Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Paintsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Gera, Murphy, Dikgacoi, Dempsey (Helge Riise, 84); A Johnson (Baird, h-t), Kamara (E Johnson, 81). Substitutes not used: Kelly, Nevland, Greening, Zuberbuhler (gk).
Bookings: West Ham: Parker, Faubert. Sending-off: Fulham: Dikgacoi.
Referee: P Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent)
Man of match: Kamara
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