West Ham 3 - 1 Fulham
Sunday, 18th January 2009/13:30
Goals from David Di Michele, Mark Noble and Carlton Cole were enough to see off an error prone Fulham side.
Di Michele capitalised from a mistake from a former Hammer, John Pantsil, whose communication with goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was poor and the Italian striker quickly took advantage. Rounding Pantsil, Di Michele prodded past Schwarzer to send West Ham into the lead early on in the match.
Although controlling the match West Ham were pegged back after twenty-two minutes. Ex-Hammer Paul Konchesky equalised for the Cottagers against the run of play with a goal reminiscent West Ham's third goal scored by Konchesky in the 2006 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
There was little action after this as the match calmed slightly, Robert Green was never seriously tested for the remainder of the first half and the impressive form of Fulham centre-back Brede Hangeland meant Schwarzer was also left without much to do.
The match struggled for continuity even after coming out in the second half as most of the game was contained within midfield. Occasionally, a chance arose from promising young Hammers midfielder Jack Collison, but nothing materialised until Konchesky's glory in his return to Upton Park was taken away, bringing down Carlton Cole in the penalty area to concede a penalty.
Mark Noble was first choice to take the spot kick and coolly but powerfully slotted past Schwarzer, opening up his body to send the Australian keeper the wrong way and edge West Ham back in front.
Inspired by taking the lead again, West Ham looked a lot more solid, as a unit and Cole went close to adding a third soon after. Controlling a Robert Green goal-kick well on his chest, Cole turned and only just lashed wide of Fulham's goal.
It was slightly inevitable, that the Hammers would add a third and yet more sloppy defending from Fulham eventually led to this happening. Collison did well to intercept a pass and even better to find Di Michelle, who was running towards goal, and fed Cole who slotted for a third.
An all round impressive performance all round from West Ham. Cole looks a striker reborn and has now scored in every one of his past five games. On a more disappointing note, it was sad to see Craig Bellamy omitted from the 18 man squad for the match altogether. The Welshman now looks well on his way out of West Ham with either Manchester City or Spurs to choose from.
West Ham team:
Subs Not Used: Stech, Boa Morte, Tristan, Sears
Subs Not Used: Zuberbuhler, Baird, Andreasen, Kallio, Gray
Hammers manager Gianfranco Zola:
'I thought the match had a strange atmosphere, it was a bit flat at the beginning but we made it happen and I told them I was proud of them.
'It was like we were playing in a very silent place, I couldn't understand, but the players came on in the second half they knew what they had to do and they did fantastically well, and we got out with three points well deserved.
'We took the goals very well, Fulham are not a team that concedes very much, so it was a big point for us.'
Quotes courtesy of BBC Sport