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Hammer blow for Whites

Written By: Robert Halter

Both West Ham United and Fulham were busy in the transfer window prior to deadline and a day before the Hammers and Whites met at the Boleyn Ground in a lunch time kick off beginning of September, the Irons made the loan signing of Andy Carroll from Liverpool as he made his home debut, while the Cottagers fielded new recruit from Sunderland Kieran Richardson in their starting line up with former Manchester United star, Dimitar Berbatov on the Fulham bench. Although not featured in the game, the Hammers welcomed back Yossi Benayoun, signed from Chelsea. Carroll made his presence known immediately and had an impact in the opening goal within the first fifty three seconds with a knock down to Ricardo Vaz Te, who set up West Ham captain, Kevin Nolan, to let fly with a right footed rocket that beat Mark Schwarzer’s despairing dive, as the ball landed in the right side of the goal. The Whites had a long range effort by Richardson five minutes later but Jussi Jaaskelainen smothered the shot to defuse the power of the strike. Vaz Te again combined with Carroll on nine minutes, as the Hammers front man headed the ball down to Mohamed Diame, whose rasping effort cannoned against the upright, as the claret and blue army were fractions away from increasing their advantage. The Irons kept up the pressure on the Fulham goal again, three minutes later, as Joey O’ Brien combined with Vaz Te, whose low drive was clawed behind by Schwarzer at his left hand post. On the quarter of the hour mark, Nolan had another attempt at goal but put the ball over, after Carroll headed the ball on to Vaz Te, to create the opening. After the midway point of the first half, Schwarzer was competent again in keeping out Steve Sidwell’s shot from distance. But there was no reprieve for the Cottagers on twenty eight minutes when from Matt Taylor’s corner on the right side, Winston Reid rose in the penalty area to send a soaring header into the centre of the net, on what had been a perfect start for the Hammers. A defensive mix up by Fulham handed the third goal to West Ham United on a plate, as the Whites Brede Hangeland, failed to deal with a long free kick in by James Collins following a foul by Richardson on Vaz Te, and as the ball broke to Taylor, he placed his strike past a stranded Jaaskelainen to put the Hammers in pole position going into the break. In what looked like a lost cause for Fulham, Berbatov was brought on by the Whites for the second half, in place of Mladen Petric. On fifty one minutes, Schwarzer was tested again, after Mark Noble laid the free kick off to Taylor, who sent his delivery directly against the Cottagers goalkeeper, following a foul by Mahamadou Diarra on Vaz Te. After a heavy fall on the back of Hangeland, as a security measure to prevent further injury Carroll was replaced by Carlton Cole midway through the second half. Moments later, Sidwell was unable to convert off a Damien Duff corner, after a reaction save by Jaaskelainen, kept the Cottagers at bay. Another stop by Jaaskelainen kept out Hugo Rodallega’s shot on seventy three minutes, as the Whites were unable to find a goal. In the final minute of normal time, Berbatov set up Duff but again Jaaskelainen stopped the Cottagers with a full length save but the Whites day was summed up at the end as Berbatov was again instrumental in the move to Rodallega, whose low strike hit the right post before his rebound effort was put behind by Jaaskelainen for a corner to keep a clean sheet for the Hammers  in a 3-0 victory, a reversal of the defeat at Swansea City the week before, as the Irons catapulted up six places in the table to fourth.