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The Arizonan

Fulham res 4 Bournemouth res 0 0

last updated Thursday 15th March 2001, 8:33 AM
Fulham secured a ninth successive league victory here at Motspur Park today mainly due to an impressive hat-trick by wonder kid Calum Willock.

Striker Willock, a product of the youth academy, was in predatory mood as he and substitute strike partner Elvis Hammond ran the Bournemouth defense ragged. Hammond grabbed the other goal of the game.

At one point it looked as if Fulham were scoring for fun as Bournemouth started to push more and more men forward the further behind they went. This exposed their two centre backs, who were often left to deal with a marauding Fulham attack which broke forward on the counter-attack at pace.

However, the game could have been so different had Marcus Hahnemann not produced a good save early on. In their best chance of the game, Bournemouth midfield man Stephen Cosgrove fed striker Ben Thomson on the edge of the box. But before he had time to think, Hahnemann was upon him, making himself big and smothering his shot. Fulham's 'keeper had little to do after this incident.

Fulham began to take the initiative and looked very lively up front boasting the likes of Riedle, Willock, Betsy and Stolcers. Zat Knight was the only real holding player in midfield, he replaced the absent Fabrice Fernandes. Nicolas Sahnoun kept me company on the gantry, still recovering from a gashed leg he received last week against Crystal Palace.

The highly impressive Zesh Rehman at right back combined well with Andrejs Stolcers, between them they won a number of corners, one of which almost led to the first goal. Stolcers hit the ball deep to the back post, it was knocked back across goal and both Knight and Willock came agonizingly close to applying the finish.

Bournemouth keeper Gareth Stewart seemed determined to help Fulham get the breakthrough. He played a kamikaze like goal kick to his centre back which was well intercepted by Karl Heinz Riedle. His shot was eventually blocked for yet another corner.

Riedle himself was booked minutes later for a tackle from behind. He was not too happy about the decision, but his over eager forwards-challenge probably deserved the yellow card. He decided to take out his frustration the best way he knows how; by scoring goals. He was unlucky not to do so when he met Stolcers right wing cross with his head and glanced the upright.

A minute later though Willock did get the break through. Kevin Betsy, playing in an attacking midfield position, found him with an acute pass and he slotted the ball into the far corner from just inside the box. He was clearly delighted to get the goal which came five minutes before the break.

At half time Fulham made a couple of changes. Simon Morgan, who looked sharper than last week, was replaced by Mark Hudson while Elvis Hammond came on for Riedle. Knight reverted back to his favoured defensive role alongside the impeccable Alan Neilsen and Rehman moved into central midfield.

Hammond was to make an immediate impression. After a quick throw from Hahnemann found Lewis, he located Willock who pushed the ball onto Hammond. His quick turn earned him a yard of space to get his shot in which was well saved by the keeper.

The best move of the game soon followed. Willock knocked down for Trollope. He picked out Betsy on a forward run and his low left footed cross to the far post saw Hammond sliding in only for the ball to clip his studs and go wide.

Hammond soon turned provider. From a cleared Bournemouth corner he broke forward at pace, picked out Willock and he fired home from a similar position to his first goal.

Hammond himself was rewarded with a goal of his own ten minutes later. Lewis crossed to the far post after good work by Rehman and Hammond was on hand to prod the ball home from eight yards. Willock grabbed his deserved hat-trick four minutes later when he was put through by Betsy, rounding the keeper and sliding the ball home.

My theory that Cherries’ keeper Gareth Stewart might be looking for a transfer to Fulham was further proved 20 minutes from time. He managed to let a James Ford backpass slip under his foot and roll luckily onto the post. It was comical to say the least.

Fulham team:
Hahnemann, Rehman, Trollope, Morgan (Hudson, 45) Neilsen, Knight, Stolcers, Betsy, Riedle (Hammond, 45) Willock, Lewis. Subs not used: Thompson, McCracken
Source Fulham fc by Matthew Stevens
Since 1998
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