Tuesday, 24th February 2004
This was one of those matches where the result bore such little resemblance to the bulk of the match that it appears to have been added on as an afterthought. However, as they always say, if you don't take your chances you don't win your matches. 3-0 though? As Harry Enfield's Kevin used to say - “It's so unfair”.
The side showed several changes from last weekend – in addition to the half of the squad that was cup-tied Repka was still feeling unwell and was therefore absent giving us a back four of Dailly and Mullins in the centre with Quinn and Ferdinand either side. Horlock returned to partner Carrick in the middle with Harewood and Etherington either side with Connolly & Deane up front. Amusingly, Jon Harley, refused permission to play in the fixture, appeared in the squad listings for both teams!
The early exchanges – indeed the bulk of the first half - belonged to the home side. Etherington looked particularly lively down the left whilst a Horlock effort from distance had Van Der Sar juggling. As in the first match, the Dutchman was, on occasion, the only thing keeping Fulham in the match. Well that and the somewhat eccentric refereeing of Mike Riley who failed to see anything wrong in two players bundling Connolly over when clean through. Undeterred Connolly proceeded to run his legs off, testing Van Der Sar himself and feeding Harewood whose blasted shot brought a fine close range save from the 'keeper.
Deane was the next Hammer to find his luck was out – an effort from the edge of the six yard box was deflected over by a defender who knew about as much about it as I do about particle physics. In the middle of all this Ferdinand and Horlock picked up bookings – Horlock's being particularly galling as it came from a challenge identical to that that had been earlier perpetrated on Connolly without punishment.
Bywater had been largely unemployed for the bulk of the match but on the rare occasions that Fulham did break forward he was more than equal to the couple of long range efforts that came his way. However, typically of West Ham, we could easily have gone in one down when an unmarked Boa Morte headed wide from close range about five minutes from the interval. Undeterred we went up the other end and, following some more excellent work and a great through ball from Connolly, Harewood found himself clear through one on one with Van Der Sar. This time Harewood elected to place the shot rather than blast it and, although the 'keeper was beaten the ball rolled agonisingly past the far post .
On reflection this was one of those matches where half time came too soon – the break removed all the momentum built up over the previous 45 minutes. I would also have preferred to have seen the anniversary of Bobby Moore's death marked by something a bit more dignified than the repeated playing of “Viva Bobby Moore” - but maybe that's just me getting old (although during a pre-match phone call from my mother I was advised to “wrap up warm”!)
The second half began with Fulham making an early change. Djetou was replaced by the ridiculously tall Zat Knight, a man surely responsible for more damage to the ozone layer than all the aerosols ever produced. This meant we were treated at one point to the surreal sight of Connolly challenging Knight for a clearance, a challenge that, not surprisingly, Connolly failed to win, not having a jet pack readily to hand. The introduction of Knight lead to a change in Fulham's tactics in that they started to defend a lot further up the pitch. We still had chances though. Harewood found himself on the right hand side of the box and his angled drive (almost certainly a shot) narrowly avoided Etherington's despairing slide.
Fulham began to come back into the game and Bywater made a fine tip around the post from Davis. Up the other end another probing run from the angry ant found Harewood again unmarked at the edge of the box only for him to rush the shot and drag it wide when he possibly had the time and space to take the extra touch.
On 75 minutes we made our first substitution – some guy called Lomas who I understand is a promising youngster of whom much is expected, replaced Deane who had toiled with little result. This resulted in Harewood joining Connolly up front with Lomas going into the right midfield berth vacated by Harewood. Unfortunately before Lomas had a chance to exert any influence on the game we were 1-0 down, Mullins failed to deal with a long ball out from the back and McBride buried his volley past Bywater to give the visitors a scarcely deserved lead.
Harewood was again wasteful from the restart – a powerful run into the box found him one-on-one with Van Der Sar once again, but once again the keeper was able to block the effort. Three minutes later it was effectively game over. Dailly had walked off with a head wound that required stitches. A Fulham move whilst the defence was sorting itself out found Malbranque at the back post and the ball was headed back for Hayles to put into the empty net.
Another promising youngster by the name of Rob Lee came on for Horlock and Mellor replaced Dailly who hadn't returned from having his head sewn up but, cruelly, Fulham were able to add a third, Boa Morte just beating Bywater to toe poke home despite the efforts of Ferdinand on the line. There was just time for Riley to turn down a penalty appeal when Etherington was pushed over in the box before the final whistle.
Over the past couple of seasons or so we've seen more than our fair share of home disasters and you'd think a 3-0 defeat would be right up there with them. However, what I saw in this match was a team that put in a lot of effort and gave as much as they could on the night. A little more composure in front of goal against a less in-form keeper would have resulted in a more positive result and I reckon that they deserved the generous applause given as the teams came off at the final whistle. As it was 3-0 flattered Fulham who didn't really impress at all. However, they took their chances, we didn't. End of.
A final footnote. At the post match press conference Alan Pardew spotted my shiny new Philips HDD recorder (sort of like an I-Pod only cheaper!) on the table in front of him in amongst all the dictaphones & recording machines and threatened to nick the thing. He must have heard about my legendary taste in music!
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Continues to improve as his confidence increases. Not at fault for any of the goals.
Lacks confidence at the moment and didn't stay close enough to his man on far too many occasions for my liking. Difficult to see him figuring much now that we're out of the cup.
Another day, another position. Did as well as can be expected without looking 100% happy.
Did ok tonight in marshalling an unfamiliar back four picking up a load of stitches for his trouble.
Unconvincing at right back and was sometimes guilty of over-elaboration on the ball. Circumstances this season have led to his elevation to the first team ranks when, ideally, he'd have spent a season or so learning his trade on loan at a lower level.
Steady and solid. Unlucky to pick up a booking for a fairly innocuous challenge when identical challenges from others elsewhere on the pitch escaped sanction.
Continues to improve from his poor early season form. Got stuck in well as well.
One of those nights for Marlon. There'll be days when he gets a third of the chances and socre a shedload. Must be having nightmares about Dutch Goalkeepers.
Caused Fulham all sorts of problems, especially during the first half.
Battled gamely and laid off some nice balls – especially to Etherington- in the first half. Faded quickly in the second half.
As ever, ran his legs off in an attempt to make things happen. If he got one decision out of referee Riley I missed it which must have been very frustrating for angry ant.
(Replaced Deane, 73) Arrived to rapturous applause without really influencing the outcome.
(Replaced Horlock, 79) Arrived to polite applause without really influencing the outcome.
(Replaced Dailly, 83) Arrived to polite applause without really influencing the outcome.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Matthew Etherington.
West Ham United
Booked: Kevin Horlock 33 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Van der Sar, Volz, Legwinski, Goma, Bocanegra, Davis, Malbranque, Boa Morte, Djetou, Petta, McBride..
Substitutes: Pembridge (Davis 90), Knight (Djetou 48), Hayles (Petta 73)..
Subs not used: Crossley, Inamoto.
Goals: McBride (76), Hayles (79), Boa Morte (90).
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..