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Fulham suicide at West Ham

last updated Sunday 13th January 2008, 8:56 AM

West Ham 2 Fulham 1

Simon Davies
Simon Davies
gave Fulham a chance
Fulham's search for their first away win of the season goes on despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Antti Niemi, after Dean Ashton and Anton Ferdinand helped West Ham come from a goal behind to triumph 2-1 at Upton Park.

Simon Davies had put Fulham ahead when his eighth-minute free-kick evaded everyone in the West Ham box and crept inside the far post.

Ashton headed the Hammers level but was then twice denied by acrobatic saves from Niemi, who brilliantly deflected one close-range strike onto the bar and then dived to palm away another.

But there was nothing the Finnish keeper could do to stop Ferdinand's first-time shot into the roof of the net which sealed a valuable home win for West Ham.

There was a welcome return to football for Jimmy Bullard, who was included on the Fulham bench for the first time in 16 months after recovering from a horrific knee injury.

Match Stats West Ham Fulham
Goals 2 1
Possession 61% 39%
Goal attempts 12 10
On Target 9 2
Corners 8 7
Off-sides 5 2
Saves 1 5
Fouls 19 13
Yellows 0 1
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet
Bullard came on late in the day and saw an injury-time strike deflected wide, but it was almost enough for the Fulham fans just to see him back in action.

It had all started so brightly at Upton Park after Davies curled in a wicked free-kick from the left flank which flew in at the back post - only Fulham's seventh goal on their league travels all season.

Fulham had to replace Carlos Bocanegra with Aaron Hughes after the American suffered a clash of heads with Freddie Ljungberg, but they were making life difficult for West Ham, squeezing them for time and space.

However, when Ljungberg found half a yard outside Paul Konchesky, on his return to Upton Park following a summer move to Fulham, West Ham found the telling breakthrough.

Ljungberg's pinpoint delivery picked out Ashton, who had escaped Hughes on an angled run towards the near post and the England prospect glanced his header past Niemi.

The goal injected some confidence into the West Ham side and after Carlton Cole escaped the Fulham defence to earn a corner Niemi needed to be alert to hold onto Ferdinand's header.

West Ham had their tails up and controlled the last 15 minutes of the first half - but found Niemi in inspirational form.

The Finn produced a spectacular save from Ashton, whose left-foot volley from 15-yards seemed a certain goal until it was deflected up and onto the bar.

Cole's flick then found Ashton, who checked, cut back inside and curled a left-foot strike which forced Niemi into an acrobatic one-handed stop.

Cole worked a golden chance for himself, holding off Hughes to find himself one-on-one with Niemi but only managed to poke his shot straight at the keeper.

West Ham started the second half with verve as Ashton latched onto Ljungberg's clipped ball into the box but could only divert it wide.

Davies embarked on a determined run forward as Fulham looked for an attacking spark, but he was checked by Mark Noble and West Ham counter-attacked, with Ljungberg almost picking out Cole with another dangerous cross.

West Ham came again. Matthew Etherington cut in from the left and teed up Noble, whose fierce drive hit a Fulham defender on the way and deflected wide.

Clint Dempsey came close to re-establishing the lead for Fulham with a low drive which had Green stretching but fizzed just wide of the near post.

Fulham then had Konchesky to thank for a goal-line clearance after Cole had risen to meet Etherington's corner from the left with a powerful header.

Ljungberg, in easily his best game since moving to West Ham, set up a chance for Luis Boa Morte moments after the Portuguese forward came off the bench and then won a corner with another testing cross.

Noble's initial delivery was cleared - but he cut back a low ball to Ferdinand, whose first-time strike into the roof of the net earned West Ham the lead.

Fulham upped the tempo in search of an equaliser and Chris Baird missed a golden opportunity to level after Upson had fouled Healy on the edge of the West Ham box.

He escaped Ashton to meet Danny Murphy's free-kick but, unmarked and just six yards out, his header flew over the bar.

  • West Ham manager Alan Curbishley:
    "We didn't start well and (match winner) Anton Ferdinand copped it at half-time. I wasn't happy with him or Matthew Upson.

    "But both came out to put it right. We wanted to cement our position in the top half and it was a big result for us.

    "It was never going to be easy but we got the result and with players coming back from injury things look good."

  • Fulham manager Roy Hodgson:
    "There are enough games left. It won't be easy for us or many of the others around the relegation zone either. I believe we can do it.

    "We had chances at the end and it was difficult to see a point disappear.

    "I can't complain about the effort but our balance is not right and we will have to work to bring new players in."

    West Ham: Green, Spector, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney, Ljungberg (Faubert 89), Mullins, Noble, Etherington (Bowyer 83), Ashton, Cole (Boa Morte 65).
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Collins.

    Goals: Ashton 28, Ferdinand 69.

    Fulham: Niemi, Baird, Stefanovic, Bocanegra (Hughes 14), Konchesky, Volz (Bullard 77), Davis, Murphy, Davies, Healy (Smertin 78), Dempsey.
    Subs Not Used: Warner, Ki-Hyeon.

    Booked: Konchesky (81,f).

    Goal: Davies 8 (right-footed into top-right of goal from the  left channel some 25 yards out)

    Att: 34,947

    Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).

  • Source soccernet
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