Avram Grant's men are off the bottom of the league after a superb away
Fulham 1-3 West Ham United
Carlton Cole scored two Barclays Premier League goals in a single game for
the first time in his career as West Ham United recorded a first away win in
28 top-flight matches. The England striker pounced in each half at a chilly
Craven Cottage either side of a Frederic Piquionne volley. Aaron Hughes had
earlier put the home side in front with a free header. The three points -
which owed much to the magnificent Robert Green in goal - moved the Hammers
off the bottom and level on 16 points with their opponents. The last away
win came at Wolverhampton Wanderers on the first day of last season - 15
August 2009. Avram Grant had made five changes to his starting lineup,
although the back four were unchanged in front of Green, who had recovered
after missing the 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers last week following minor
Freddie Sears, back from loan, and Junior Stanislas occupied the wide
positions, with Radoslav Kovac in alongside Scott Parker in midfield with
Fulham old boy Luis Boa Morte suspended. In truth, Fulham dominated the
first half once Hughes had headed in unmarked on ten minutes. For all their
possession play, Fulham could not find a second past Green and paid the
price when Dickson Etuhu diverted the ball into Cole's path. The No9 slid in
and fired in under Mark Schwarzer. That was nine minutes before the interval
and the Hammers looked like heading into half-time on level terms. Piquionne
had other ideas, though, and found space at the back post to smash Parker's
delightful cross beyond Schwarzer in added time.
After the restart, the Hammers were imperious and - with Matthew Upson and
James Tomkins standing firm - marched on to a memorable away win. Cole
sealed the deal when he found room in the penalty area and shot into the far
corner beyond Schwarzer. Both teams had their moments after that but the
away side were always on top. Sears and Stanislas both had good chances in
the closing stages but none of the travelling support minded too much that
the chances went astray. Grant and his men will be on a high for Everton on
at home on Tuesday.
Upson leads from the back
A big factor in the Boxing Day success at Fulham was the form again of
Matthew Upson was inspirational again on Saturday in the 3-1 away win
against Fulham that has fired everyone up for two home games in quick
succession. The skipper was equal to everything Fulham could throw at the
Hammers rearguard and his defensive display alongside James Tomkins was
instrumental in a long awaited away victory. That said, Upson knew the team
had ridden their luck to draw level when Carlton Cole pounced on a loose
ball to equalise after Aaron Hughes had been allowed to head Fulham in
front. "We made the most of a bit of luck," he said, with a first away win
in 28 attempts looking a long way off when going one-down after ten minutes.
"We started off poor, and we conceded a poor goal that organisation wise was
a bad goal to concede. Though good fortune we got back into it. "We got up
and running after that and our front players started to get hold of the ball
and we started to cause problems. We looked like we could score goals. It
was great to be in that kind of form."
Frederic Piquionne lashed in a second just before half-time and then Cole
put the seal on a terrific second-half display from the whole side to send
everyone back to east London on a high. Upson said the three points could
provide a perfect platform before the arrival of Everton and Wolverhampton
Wanderers on Tuesday and Saturday respectively. "It is a major boost," he
said. "We have been waiting since the first game of last season to get an
away win and we are off the bottom of the table for the first time in quite
a while. "We need to build on this. We have got another two massive games at
home. We need to go out there with the same attitude and try and get another
three points from one of those games. That would be a really good
The England international who walked away from Craven Cottage with a nasty
cut above his eye for his troubles said Everton would arrive refreshed from
having Boxing Day off but said he and his team-mates would not be thinking
too much about their opponents. "All of these things out of our control," he
said. "We can only control our performances and our attitude when we step
out on the pitch. We have to be committed and give 100 per cent."
Manager on Monday
A terrific display away to Fulham was just reward for some strong personal
Avram Grant was a proud manager after his West Ham United came from behind
to earn a 3-1 win at Fulham on Boxing Day - and end a 27-match run without
an away league success in the process. The manager masterminded the terrific
fightback with an attacking lineup that saw Academy aces Junior Stanislas
and Freddie Sears in support of central strikers Carlton Cole and Frederic
Piquionne. Although the Hammers rode their luck in the first third of the
Craven Cottage contest and needed Robert Green at times, there was no doubt
they fully deserved all three points by the final whistle. "I am delighted,"
Grant said as his team raised themselves off the bottom of the Barclays
Premier League. "We came close to the first away win so many times,
especially last week at Blackburn. I am really impressed with the attitude
and the fighting spirit we have seen in the last few games. "We hadn't won
an away game since the first day of last season and this was an important
victory. At West Ham there is a tradition of playing good football. We spoke
before the game about playing good football but also being aware that we
need to get points. "The players are very happy, they know the feeling and
they want to taste it again. That is very important. We have had some
problems this season but no one has felt sorry for themselves. We have a
huge belief. We have been playing good football in most of the games and we
have been creating chances - we never gave up. Now it is just about closing
the gap and getting the wins."
The manager's selection headaches this week were prompted by Luis Boa
Morte's suspension while Kieron Dyer and Benni McCarthy had muscle
problems. Victor Obinna's recovery from a badly bruised leg was, though,
sufficient for him to return to the bench - with the hope he would not be
required. Green was back after minor surgery but Valon Behrami (hip) and
Lars Jacobsen (heel) were not quite fit enough to return while Zavon Hines
sat out as Sears came back after a loan. Having reshuffled his pack again,
Grant was once more impressed with the never-say-die attitude as the team
came from behind for a result for the second straight week. "I hope it is a
turning point. We spoke about this as well before the Blackburn game and we
deserved something in both matches."
Two-goal Cole got plenty of praise from the manager for the way he has
knuckled down under pressure - not least from the striker himself and his
determination to show his worth to the supporters. "Carlton Cole showed
great finishing for both goals and Freddie Piquionne took his goal very well
from Scotty Parker's superb assist. Carlton started the season in the team.
He was the first choice but he wasn't playing well. He dropped to the bench
but I am telling you that he worked very hard in the last few weeks like he
needs to do and he got the reward. "The first goal was a break for us. I
hope we get more like this. I always said to the players when you work hard
you will get your breaks. We needed to be awake and Carlton was alive to it.
He took the chance well. "We have had our troubles but we still want to play
football in the right way and continue with the club's vision of young
players. At Fulham we had three players Under-21 in the starting lineup.
What is important is we have the right mentality. "We knew we didn't deserve
to be bottom but also we knew that we needed to do our job and change it. I
am sure it will give us a lift. "I am sure this will not be the last away
win this season. There are still some things we can improve and we have
players to come back. We continued to believe. We were not good for the
first 30 minutes but we kept going.
"We are only at halfway stage, we have half the league in front of us, we
will be more efficient and we have players to come into the squad. It will
be a long battle but we have a long-term vision and I have always said you
cannot change things for the better in one day."
Fulham 1 - 3 West Ham
By Jon Barbuti
Carlton Cole scored a Premier League brace for the first time to earn West
Ham their first away win of the season while heaping more pressure on
The Cottagers took the lead when Aaron Hughes headed home Simon Davies'
cross but Cole pounced on Dickson Etuhu's error to level. Frederic
Piquionne's volley gave the Hammers a lead they did not deserve. But the
visitors improved after the break and sealed the win through Cole's smart
left-foot volley. Cole's display for the Hammers continued what is something
of a renaissance for the 27-year-old England striker. He has been in and out
of West Ham boss Avram Grant's side this season, but has now scored doubles
twice in a month having previously gone eight years without managing the
However, Cole's previous two-goal efforts both came in the League Cup and
while the recent victory over Manchester United in that competition was
welcome, it pales into insignificance compared to the importance of a league
win - vital for all manner of reasons. Not only was it the first three
points the east Londoners have picked up away from Upton Park since August
2009, it might also buy Grant some breathing space - the Israeli having
previously been told he had to win one of club's matches over the festive
But, while West Ham can approach the remainder of the season with renewed
confidence, for the Cottagers the problems have only increased. Again they
looked neat in possession and would have won comfortably had they been able
to call on an in-form striker. Instead, they find themselves in the bottom
three, two points behind Birmingham in 17th place. In short, Cole was the
difference between two sides that went into the match having only won two
league games this season - the worst record in the Premier League. In Danny
Murphy, Fulham had the player with the most guile and composure on the pitch
but they lacked the players to take advantage of his probing. However, it
all looked set to end so differently when Fulham took a deserved lead.
Carlos Salcido advanced on a sharp cross-field pass from Murphy and,
although his shot was palmed behind, the resultant corner led to the ball
being fed back to Simon Davies, whose left-footed cross was powered home by
Hughes. With more of a cutting edge Fulham would then have proceeded to put
the game beyond their opponents with a number of good chances created and
spurned. Andrew Johnson, yet to regain full sharpness after a lengthy spell
out, was the prime culprit, the striker mis-hitting when unmarked eight
yards out following Davies' low cross, while in the second half he was to
fluff his lines when clean through with an equaliser beckoning.
Clint Dempsey was also twice close to connecting with crosses and the lively
Davies jinked inside before firing a left-foot shot over. Normally a spate
of missed chances creates the impression that the other team will punish the
profligacy but so disjointed were the Hammers that any talk of an equaliser
seemed fanciful. However, Grant's side were to get a huge helping hand as
Freddie Sears, struggling to get into the game on his return to the Premier
League after a spell with Scunthorpe in the Championship, sent in an aimless
cross that Etuhu waved a leg at, deflecting the ball straight into the path
of Cole and the England striker made no mistake from 10 yards. Cole was then
thwarted by Cottagers goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer when played clean through
but the miss was academic as from the resultant corner the ball was returned
to Parker, whose cross was neatly volleyed home by Piquionne. Although
Fulham would have told themselves they were the better team at half-time,
falling behind appeared to hit their confidence every bit as much as it
boosted the resurgent Cole. On 52 minutes he took a moment too long when he
could have shot and 10 minutes later he was bustled away when trying to
close on a Parker cross but the striker was not to be denied for long. His
second goal combined all the qualities he is known to possess yet displays
too rarely. He showed strength to force his way on to Daniel Gabbidon's punt
into the box and then awareness and technique to score with a neat left-foot
volley on the turn. The home side had a chance to hit back immediately but
were denied by a superb save from the returning Robert Green, the England
keeper flinging his right hand upwards to deflect substitute Eddie Johnson's
shot over. That miss was to sum up a miserable afternoon for Fulham boss
Mark Hughes and, with no more chances forthcoming, he must now fear he will
be on the end of an ultimatum similar to the one delivered to Grant only a
few weeks ago.
Fulham lack cutting edge - Hughes
Boss Mark Hughes has denied he is under pressure after fans called for his
head as Fulham extended their winless run to eight Premier league matches.
West Ham moved level on points with the Cottagers after beating them 3-1 and
Hughes conceded his men must improve. Hughes said: "The chairman [Mohammed
Al Fayed] understands what we are lacking and that we are working really
hard. On occasions things have gone against us. "We play some good stuff but
it's evident we lack a cutting edge." Hughes left the Craven Cottage pitch
to chants of "Hughes out!" after earlier enduring taunts of "You don't know
what you're doing!" and needs his men to pick up points at Stoke on Tuesday
and Tottenham on New Year's Day to ease their relegation fears.
The Cottagers boss said that the defeat only highlighted the need to get
injured strikers fit and also consider signing new recruits in the January
transfer window. "In the first half we had total control and looked very
comfortable," added Hughes, who has yet to savour an away win this season.
"We had the opportunity to go 2-0 up and had we taken it I think we would
have gone on to win comfortably. "We need to look at what's out there to
help us. We missed the injured Moussa Dembele and he should be back for the
next game but Bobby Zamora is probably out until the middle of February. If
a player becomes available we may need to go into the market." And Hughes,
while insisting his players were working hard, admitted that losing a match
he had targeted taking three points from had come as a blow. "We looked at
this game as one felt we could win and from the opening exchanges we thought
that would happen but football changes very quickly and we're not getting a
lot of breaks," he commented. "I'd expect to have more than two wins by this
stage in the season, but we've played some good stuff today. "We lack a
cutting edge and our defending has also let us down today. We're
disappointed but we'll go again at Stoke. "There's some frustration from the
fans and that's filtering through. We've got to overcome that and go and win
matches. We have to be brave in possession and we have to be better on
While scrutiny over Hughes's future has intensified, his counterpart Avram
Grant was delighted to have secured a win that moved West Ham off the bottom
of the table and also lifted some of the pressure from his shoulders. Grant
reflected: "It was a good game for us - we came back, which was amazing.
Fulham had a lot of possession and they were controlling it without creating
chances. "They were better than us. I didn't like the goal we conceded but
we scored three and in the second half and we could have scored more so I'm
happy. The players are happy with the win and they want to taste it again.
"I'm very pleased and I'm sure it won't be the last we win this season." On
Carlton Cole, who scored twice, Grant added: "He's had hard times - every
player has them - [but] in the last week he's trained very hard and when you
train hard and you work hard then you get the reward."
Fulham 1 West Ham Utd 3
Filed: Sunday, 26th December 2010
By: Staff Writer
West Ham recorded their first away win in the Premier League since August
2009 with a comprehensive victory against fellow strugglers Fulham at Craven
Cottage this lunchtime.
Carlton Cole - with his first ever top flight brace - fired the Hammers off
the bottom of the table at the expense of Wolves, who were beaten 2-1 at
home by Wigan. Inbetween Cole's strikes, Freddy Piquionne's scored United's
third with a goal on the stroke of half time.
The all-important, moral-boosting away victory certainly didn't appear to be
on the cards after 11 minutes when Aaron Hughes nodded the Cottagers ahead
with his first goal in some five-and-a-half years. The defender was left
criminally unmarked inside the six yard box to nod home the game's opener.
However the home side were to shoot themselves in the foot eight minutes
ahead of the break; Freddy Sears' low drive into the box was completely
misjudged by Dickson Etuhu and the resulting loose ball fell into the path
of a lurking Carlton Cole, who struck the ball across Fulham goalkeeper Mark
Schwarzer from the right corner of the six-yard box to restore parity.
That slight touch of fortune was perfectly complemented with a touch of
quality in the dying seconds of the half when Scott Parker's pinpoint
delivery from the left flank to the far post was met with a thumping volley
from Piquionne to stun the home crowd.
The Frenchman's goal was his sixth of the season - and West Ham are yet to
lose a game he's scored in.
All of which was good news for the Hammers and the travelling faithful who
had made the short trip across the Thames for the day's early (midday) kick
off. With West Ham's recent form suggesting better performances tend to
occur after the half time break, hopes were high of more yuletide cheer to
Early exchanges after the break were fairly even which led to frustration
amongst the Fulham support, no doubt expecting to see their team seal three
points which would in turn ease their club's own relegation worries. Mark
Hughes, who was rumoured to be facing the tin tack should he fail to win
today's game was probably feeling a tad twitchy too.
But a Fulham win - or a draw, for that matter - began to look less likely as
the half wore on, with Avram Grant's well-drilled side beginning to win the
important balls and take control of the centre of the park, despite Hughes
having made a double switch ten minutes into the second period.
Sears went close with a turn in the shot from the edge of the six-yard box,
then Junior Stanislas' on-target effort was narrowly deflected wide. 17
minutes from time and under pressure, goalscorer Hughes atoned for his
earlier error - from a claret and blue perspective, that is - by midjudging
Danny Gabbidon's lofted drive towards the Fulham penalty area.
Carlton Cole, showing the predatory instinct that has appeared all too
rarely this season was first to respond, this time striking the loose ball
across Schwarzer's left side into the opposite corner to put the Hammers
into what proved to be an unassailable two-goal lead.
West Ham safely saw out Fulham's barely insipid attempts to claw their way
back into the game - Rob Green's stunning point-blank save from Eddie
Johnson in the dying seconds of the game the only moment of note - to record
a most-welcome away win, the first since winning 2-1 at Wolves on the
opening day of the 2009/10 season some 16 months ago.
Hopes are that today's success will signal the start of a second 'great
escape' - although with the win leaving West Ham just two points behind 17th
placed Birmingham (albeit having played two games more) a steady
continuation of recent results should prove enough to stave off the dreaded
Christmas is turning out pretty well so far for West Ham, having accumulated
four points out of a possible six from the two away games at Blackburn and
With very winnable games against Everton and Wolves to follow at the Boleyn
within the next five days, this Christmas period could prove to be a most
fruitful one indeed for Avram Grant.
Red-hot Cole fires Hammers
Grant's men off the bottom with Cottage victory
Last updated: 26th December 2010
Man of the match - All of West Ham's players dug deep to help their side
pick up a priceless Boxing Day three points at Craven Cottage but Freddie
Sears just about gets the nod for man-of-the-match thanks to his tenacious,
energetic display on a surprise return to the team.
Moment of the match - In the 73rd minute, Fulham's poor defending gifted
Carlton Cole a second belated Christmas present and the striker made no
mistake with a cool finish to put West Ham on the road to a crucial 3-1
Goal of the match - West Ham had looked pretty poor during the first half
but having managed to level the scores, they took the lead just before the
break when an inch-perfect cross from Scott Parker on the left wing found an
unmarked Frederic Piquionne to fire home with a clinical volley.
Attempt of the match - Early on in this clash Carlos Salcido cut inside from
left midfield before drilling a long range shot at goal which bounced just
in front of Rob Green, who had to push the ball wide for a corner.
Save of the match - Robert Green pulled off a superb fingertip reflex save
to deny Fulham's Eddie Johnson from close range just moments after West Ham
had gone 3-1 up.
Talking point - There had been reports in the days leading up to this game
that a defeat for Fulham would leave Mark Hughes in grave danger of the
sack. This result is sure to put more pressure on the Cottagers boss, who
has not seen his team win a game since the end of October.
West Ham boosted their survival hopes with an impressive 3-1 win over London
rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage. Carlton Cole maintained his fine record
against Fulham with two opportunistic strikes with Frederic Piquionne
netting the other for West Ham to cancel out Aaron Hughes' early opener for
the home side. Hughes gave Fulham the lead after just 11 minutes when he
headed home unmarked inside the box to net his first goal for more than six
West Ham were gifted their equaliser on 37 minutes when Dickson Etuhu
inadvertently gave the ball straight to Cole to slide the ball past Mark
Piquionne stunned the home side when he volleyed in Scott Parker's cross in
first-half stoppage time. Cole made the game safe 17 minutes from time when
he fired low into the net after Fulham failed to deal with a long ball from
Danny Gabbidon. The win eases the pressure on Hammers boss Avram Grant, but
for Fulham it stretches their winless run to eight games to leave Mark
Hughes under fire. The Cottagers boss left the field to chants of "Hughes
out!" after earlier enduring taunts of "You don't know what you're doing!"
Grant's own pre-match desperation was summed up by Freddie Sears being
handed his first Premier League start since March 2009 in one of five
changes for the visitors. The 21-year-old striker, recalled early from a
loan spell at Scunthorpe, had scored just one goal in his entire 71-match
But, playing down the right, he made an immediate impact with a decent cross
for the recalled Cole, who was under good pressure.
The striker also dragged wide from a tight angle before the visitors
reminded their fans just why they were rock bottom in the 11th minute. The
fit-again Robert Green palmed behind a Carlos Salcido shot that was going
wide and the visitors failed to clear the resulting corner, allowing Simon
Davies to cross for the unmarked Hughes to nod home. Recalled Fulham forward
Andrew Johnson tested Green from distance two minutes later and should have
doubled the hosts' lead in the 18th minute when he failed to connect
properly with Davies' cross from six yards. Fulham continued to dominate and
even began playing keep ball as the half progressed but gifted their
toothless opponents an equaliser with eight minutes remaining. Sears' weak
cross was intercepted by Etuhu but the midfielder could only divert the ball
straight to Cole, who stretched to angle it beyond the onrushing Mark
Schwarzer from six yards. Cole should have made it 2-1 when he shot straight
at the goalkeeper after being put through one on one with a minute
remaining. But Piquionne incredibly put the visitors ahead in stoppage-time
when he arrived completely unmarked to volley in Parker's cross. Matthew
Upson picked up the game's first yellow card early in the second half for
tripping Clint Dempsey. But the free-kick came to nought and West Ham should
have scored themselves in the 52nd minute but another heavy touch from Cole
let him down.
Fulham boss Hughes withdrew Dempsey and Etuhu for Damien Duff and Eddie
Johnson a minute later, a change greeted by some fans with chants of: "You
don't know what you're doing!" Green beat Andrew Johnson to John Pantsil's
cross as the hosts searched for an equaliser but the latter then got himself
booked after bringing down Stanislas. Only a desperate clearance from Brede
Hangeland prevented Cole turning in Parker's 64th-minute cross, and Sears
sent a shot on the turn wide moments later. Hangeland then played a
defence-splitting pass to Andrew Johnson but Green was off his line in a
flash to block the forward's finish. Junior Stanislas had an effort
deflected behind in the 71st minute before another calamity befell Fulham
two minutes later.
Hughes tried to cut out a long ball forward but only succeeded in nodding
straight to Cole, who fired a superb angled drive across Schwarzer. Eddie
Johnson forced a superb fingertip save from Green trying to pull a goal back
and Danny Murphy should have done better than blazing over Duff's cross.
With time running out, Andrew Johnson was unable to get enough power on a
shot on the turn. But Fulham were already beaten and West Ham had the luxury
of making a late change when Frank Nouble came on for Piquionne before the
chants of "Hughes out!" began.
Grant hails Hammers victory
West Ham boss eyes winning run after Cottage victory
Last updated: 26th December 2010
West Ham boss Avram Grant was delighted with his side's win over Fulham as
they boosted their survival hopes. The Hammers came from behind to record a
3-1 victory at Craven Cottage to move off the bottom of the table and secure
their first away success of the season. Two goals from Carlton Cole and
Frederic Piquionne's effort right on the stroke of half-time cancelled out
Aaron Hughes' early opener to give West Ham the precious three points.
Grant went into the game with his position reportedly under threat and he
insists his players are keen to build on the Fulham victory.
"It was a good game for us - we came back which was amazing," said Grant.
"Fulham had a lot of possession and they were controlling it without
creating chances. "I didn't like the goal we conceded but we scored three
and we could have scored more so I'm happy. "The players are happy with the
win and they want to taste it again."
Fulham 1 West Ham 3
By MARK IRWIN
Published: 26 Dec 2010
THEY say it is better to give than to receive at Christmas but do not tell
Mark Hughes. The Fulham boss was left fuming as his team presented West Ham
with a seasonal lifeline which even the most optimistic Hammers fan could
not have seen coming. After half an hour of this relegation derby, Avram
Grant's team were living down to all expectations and preparing to enter the
New Year rooted to the foot of the Premier League. But that was before the
season of goodwill to all men overtook a Fulham defence who look to be doing
their best to get their manager the boot. Perhaps it was all just a ploy to
ensure Grant stays in charge of their survival rivals, after being warned by
West Ham's owners he needed to win at least one of the festive fixtures to
keep his job.
Chairman David Gold was certainly a happy man after his team's first Prem
away win since the opening day of last season. Gold admitted: "We had been
bottom of the table all season and it is one of the worst places to be in
football. When you are bottom of the Premier League, the whole world is
looking at you. It is awful. "I feared the worst for the first 20 minutes.
But now we are off the bottom, though everyone knows it is not the end of
the job. "The issue here was never about Avram saving his job. It was about
getting out of the relegation zone and Avram has taken us a step towards
Gold admitted new signings will be arriving in the January transfer window
but wants to see more from the players already on the wage bill. That
includes striker Carlton Cole, the England international who had NEVER
scored twice in a league game before yesterday. Cole has cut a forlorn
figure at Upton Park this season and looked to be heading for the exit door
after a recent blast at Grant's tactics. In his defence, he has hardly
received a decent cross all year and even his first league double was laid
on by opposing defenders rather than his team-mates. Yet Cole was in no mood
to look that gift-horse in the mouth and took full advantage of feeble
Fulham's problems to lift the Hammers off the foot of the table for the
first time since September. And you have to say that, on the evidence of
this performance, you would back the Hammers ahead of Fulham to beat the
Grant's team might still be short of real quality and inspirational
leadership, yet at least they are still up for the fight. That was more than
you can say about a Fulham team who have now taken a mere four points from
their last eight games. It looked as though they were going to end that
dismal run when Aaron Hughes headed them into a 10th-minute lead from Simon
Davies' ball into the six-yard box. With Davies running riot down the wings
and West Ham all over the place at the back, it seemed only a matter of time
before Fulham grabbed a second to finish it all off. But they were unable to
make their possession tell and, inevitably, paid the price when the visitors
equalised in the 37th minute. Freddie Sears' wayward cross from the right
posed little danger to Mark Schwarzer's goal until Dickson Etuhu
inexplicably turned the ball into the danger zone. Cole, barely able to
believe his luck, swivelled expertly to dispatch a low shot into the bottom
corner. It was to prove the turning point of a game which was low on quality
but could prove hugely significant in the fight for Prem safety. West Ham,
previously resigned to their fate, suddenly sensed Fulham were even more
vulnerable than they were. And in stoppage time at the end of the first half
they seized an unlikely lead. Scott Parker crossed to the back post and
Brede Hangeland stood frozen to the spot as Frederic Piquionne nipped in to
The big Norwegian was at fault again when Cole sealed Fulham's fate with his
second goal in the 73rd minute. Once more a Fulham defender teed him up.
Hughes headed Danny Gabbidon's hopeful punt into Cole's path. Yet there was
still no excuse for the ease with which Hangeland was shrugged off the ball
before Cole was allowed to shoot beyond Schwarzer again. Delighted Grant
declared: "I am very pleased with the character and spirit we showed. We
didn't start well but I hope this will be a turning point for us. I have
said for a long time we did not deserve to be bottom of the league. To get
our first away win will be a real boost for us. "Carlton Cole started the
season as our first-choice striker but didn't play well and was on the
bench. "But he has worked very, very hard in training in the last few weeks
and things happen in football when you do that. He deserved his goals. It
was great finishing from him."
DREAM TEAM RATINGS
SUN STAR MAN - CARLTON COLE (WEST HAM)
FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Pantsil 5, Hughes 6, Hangeland 4, Salcido 5, Davies 6,
Murphy 7, Etuhu 5 (Duff 6), Dempsey 5 (E Johnson 5), Gera 4, A Johnson 5.
Subs not used: Stockdale, Baird, Kamara, Greening, Halliche. Booked:
WEST HAM: Green 7, Ben Haim 6, Tomkins 6, Gabbidon 5, Upson 5, Sears 6,
Parker 6, Kovac 5, Stanislas 5, Piquionne 6 (Nouble 5), Cole 8. Subs not
used: Boffin, Reid, Barrera, Spector, Ilunga, Obinna. Booked: Upson.
REF: M Halsey 7
Sullivan: I can't sleep for West Ham worry
Published 12:29 26/12/10 By Paul Smith
David Sullivan admits he can't sleep at night and his time at West Ham has
been a disaster so far. Talking exclusively for the first time in nine
months, Sullivan, who acquired West Ham with David Gold last January,
claims no one could possibly imagine how the pair are suffering. Sullivan
said: "Don't talk to me about Christmas. I'm spending every waking hour
trying to address the problems at West Ham. "I can barely sleep at night
with worry. In fact, most nights I wake up terribly depressed and worried
sick. "I feel like I have gone six rounds in a boxing ring and taken a
battering. "My only hope is there are six more to go and I can stay on my
feet long enough to survive."
West Ham have taken just 13 points from 18 games this season and are
stranded at the bottom after playing one more game than their rivals.
Historically, only one team, West Brom, have managed to survive after
propping up the league at Christmas. Sullivan added: "To suggest
statistically it will be all right on the night isn't cutting it. The
bookies are no mugs and we are 2-1 to get relegated." But, on a more
positive note, Sullivan has pledged to bolster the squad in the January
transfer window. He said: "We know we have to strengthen the squad when the
window opens. We don't have one iron in the fire, we have about 15.
Acquiring a striker remains a priority."
And he refuses to be drawn on the immediate future of Avram Grant, even
though it's been widely suggested he's been set a six-point target from the
next four games to prevent a change. "We all have to take collective
responsibility. I'm not going to speculate on the future of the manager when
we have crucial games coming up. "As an owner and a supporter, this
situation is killing me. I couldn't anticipate with 20 years' experience in
the game that we would find ourselves in this position. "I honestly felt the
squad was good enough to be comfortably clear of relegation. We didn't have
unrealistic expectations. "We set a target of mid-table safety and perhaps,
with some luck, a decent run in a cup competition. "At the moment, I would
willingly trade what luck we have had in the Carling Cup for league points.
But despite the severity of our situation, I still think we will survive."
Relegation would hamper the Hammers' plans to move into the Olympic Stadium
when it is vacated in 2012. He said: "It's do-able but would cost us much
more money if we found ourselves in the Championship." On the plus side,
though, Sullivan and Gold have drastically reduced the debt over the last
11 months. "We inherited £110million of debt and that figure is now down to
£80m. But the repercussions of relegation would be a financial disaster."
Gold relieved to see Hammers climb off the bottom
Published 23:00 26/12/10 By Neil McLeman
David Gold last night admitted it was a "great relief" to see West Ham climb
off the bottom of the Premier League. The Hammers had been 20th since a home
draw with Fulham back on October 2. But the club's first away win all season
at Crave Cottage has now seen Avram Grant's side climb above Wolves - and
draw level with the Cottagers on points. The co-chairman said: "It was a
great result. We had been at the bottom of the table since the beginning of
the season and I must tell you it is one of the worst places to be in
football. "If you are at the bottom of the Conference, nobody knows. But the
Premier League table is there for everyone to see and it is awful. Now we
are off the bottom but the job is not done. But it is three points away from
home for the first time in 15 months and it is a great relief."
Asked if the win had saved Grant's job, Gold said: "No - because I don't
think that was the issue. We are working with Avram. We are desperate to get
out of the bottom three. We have to get out of the relegation zone and I
think he took us a step towards that goal." Captain Matthew Upson added:
"It's a major boost. Now we have two massive games, at home to Everton and
Wolves. We need to go out there with the same attitude to possibly get three
points from one of those games and that would be a really good achievement."
Vinny's Fulham Report
Vinny - Sun Dec 26 2010
West Ham Online
Fulham 1 West Ham United 3
A rare away victory saw West Ham move off the bottom of the Premiership with
a much needed 3-1 win over Fulham.
It was a cold Boxing Day in the West of London by the Thames as I took my
seat amongst the Fulham supporters in the Johnny Haynes stand hoping to see
us change our away form which had seen us not pick up a win in the last 28
The game was a strange one seeing how we started the game poorly and went a
goal down. The majority of the first half was poor and it was the kind of
display we have become used to over the last couple of seasons.
But a bit of luck is what we needed and we got that luck with some awful
Fulham defending which saw us equalise out of the blue. From then on we
played well and deserved to win after some good attacking play and some
excellent goal keeping from Robert Green.
It would be stating the obvious to claim this was an important win but given
out recent form and up coming game you cannot underestimate how vital it was
to get a victory. We have broken the away game hoodoo, we have come off the
bottom of the league, we have scored three goals with our two strikers
scoring them all and we have won only our third game all season.
I am not going to pretend we were great or even very good because this was
pretty much the same type of performance we have seen all season. But we
were gifted chances and took them and pretty much did to Fulham what other
teams have done to us during this horrible season so far.
Having walked from Hammersmith station I got into the ground to see the
screens showing our starting line up which surprised me and I am sure it
took a few others by surprise also.
Returning in goal was Robert Green who replaced Ruud Boffin.
It was midfield which saw two surprise inclusions with Radoslav Kovac
replacing Jonathan Spector in the centre of midfield. Starting on the right
hand side was Freddie Sears who had been recalled by Avram Grant from his
loan spell at Championship side Scunthorpe United. Sears was making his
first start of the season for the club and replaced Pablo Barrera who
dropped to the bench.
The other change in midfield saw Junior Stanislas come in on the left hand
side. Stanislas had come on as sub in the last game at Blackburn and scored
the equaliser. He replaced Kieron Dyer who did not even make the bench for
reasons I am unsure of as of yet. I am thinking he may have been injured.
With Luis Boa Morte suspended Carlton Cole came into the side as we went to
a 4-4-2 with Piquionne also up front.
Starting for Fulham at right back was former Hammer John Pantsil who started
9 games for the club between 2006 and 2008.
Whilst we started poorly we did have an opportunity to get ourselves in
front when a ball forward saw a flick on to Stanislas attempted to drive in
his cross but Cole was not alert enough and the ball was cut out.
Cole was more alert when a pass was played in by Piquionne and Cole turned
and hit a left foot shot which went wide. He has been taken wide by his
touch but this was an early indication that if we played it into the feet of
Cole he would have the better of the Fulham defence.
Fulham looked to get into their passing game and their build up was often
patient. The first half chance they had was way Dempsey saw his header saved
by Robert Green as the American failed to make strong contact with the ball.
But just after the ten minute mark Fulham punished some lacklustre West Ham
defending and drew first blood in this London derby.
A corner was won after Salcido hit a shot from 30 yards out which Robert
Green could only knock wide. I had thought Green had made a meal out of a
shot which shouldn't haven troubled him as much.
The corner was swung in and punched well away by Green but as the follow up
cross was blocked and spun wide to Davies the former Tottenham man put his
cross into the area with two Fulham players totally unmarked and Aaron
Hughes made no mistake with his header.
It was awful marking and I haven't seen the replay as of yet but as a group
of players we should have been alert to the danger of having not one but two
opposition players unmarked in the six yard box.
Fulham should have doubled their lead when Davies got down the right hand
side and crossed for Andy Johnson but his shot was scuffed when he really
should have been scoring.
It was the home side who were in control of the game and were struggling to
make anything happen when going forward. Fulham were doing a decent job in
stopping our wide men from turning and running at them with the ball being
played back far too often.
Scott Parker was trying to drive the team forward and on one of his bursts
he lay the ball back for Kovac to shoot which looked as though it was goal
bound but the deflection took it away for a corner.
Out of nothing we did manage to get a goal back on 37 minutes.
It was a farcical the way in which it came about but we will take anything
given our dire position in the league.
Piquionne was released down the right and he flicked the ball back for Sears
to cross but the youngster scuffed his cross and went straight to Etuhu who
stuck out his leg and inexplicably put it into the path of Carlton Cole who
slid and poked the ball past Mark Schwarzar to make it 1-1.
We now had a bit of life in our play and looked to capitalise on this
momentum in the remaining moments of the half.
Cole was put through and ran towards goal only for Pantsil to make a good
challenge and knock the ball out. The ball was played to Parker who took his
time and played in a wonderful cross to the back post for Frederique
Piquionne to volley into the back of the net from a few yards out after a
well timed run.
Sitting in the Fulham end I found it hard not to leap out of my seat given
this remarkable turn around but restrained I stayed as the Birmingham away
game told me not to get too excited in these present times when West Ham
take a lead.
The half time whistle blew shortly after Fulham kicked off again and we took
a lead (although somewhat fortunate) into the break.
The second period saw Matthew Upson booked early on for an ugly foul on
Clint Dempsey just outside the area but the resulting free kick went way
over the bar.
Cole should have done a lot better when Piquionne put a pass through to
Sears who cut the ball back for Cole but his touch really let him down and
it was easily cleared.
Fulham made a double change with the awful Etuhu coming off for striker
Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey was also replaced to the unhappiness of many
of the Fulham fans who did not have too many positive words to say about
manager Mark Hughes with the chant 'You don't know what you're doing'.
Cole showed some excellent play when the brought the ball down, turned his
man and skipped passed him with ease before laying the ball off to Stanislas
whose cross was awkwardly palmed away by Schwarzar and eventually cleared.
Soon after Stanislas beat Pantsil and played ball into the feet of Cole who
back heeled the ball to Sears who turned and shot just wide in what would
have been an excellent goal.
Fulham we very close to equalising when a ball was played through to Andy
Johnson and the striker got in behind Upson and just had Robert Green to
beat but it was the West Ham keeper who came out on top making a superb
Sears was getting into the game more and his confident run and the Fulham
defender saw him hit a shot from 20 yards which although went well wide was
great to see him with the confidence to have a go.
Fulham were pressing for that equalising goal and we were having to attack
on the counter. Piquionne had dropped deeper with Cole becoming more
isolated but this did not make a difference when we wrapped the game up.
It was another poor piece of defending by Fulham as Gabbidon played the ball
up to Piquionne who went up for the header with Aaron Hughes but the Fulham
man could only head the ball into the path of Carlton Cole who turned and
hit a left foot shot past the keeper to make it 3-1.
Despite the poor defensive header this was a good finish from Cole who took
his tally to five for the season.
Just a minute later Robert Green would make a quite remarkable save when a
shot from Danny Murphy was deflected into the path of Eddie Johnson who
could not miss from just a few yards out but somehow Green stuck out an arm
and made a fantastic save.
'Jingle Bells' was being sung by the West Ham fans and singing about what
fun it is to win away could not be more relevant give that it was August
2009 when we last tasted victory on the road.
With injury time approaching Avram Grant made a change with Piquionne coming
off and being replaced by Frank Nouble which saw the 19 year old make his
first appearance of the season.
The last few minutes were uneventful but pleasing to watch us see out a game
Made two fantastic saves in the second half which quite simply secured this
result especially the second one from Eddie Johnson which looked a certain
Tal Ben Haim
Still not a player I am fond of but did well enough without playing that
well. Was often caught out of position as he drifted inside which saw Sears
having to track back far too deep. He isn't a full back.
I thought Upson had a good game with both him and Tomkins looking solid at
the back. Upson won many headers and even the Fulham fans around me were
commenting on how dominating he was in the air.
Continues to get better and better. Tomkins was brave in the tackle and
never afraid to get stuck in. These relegation battles are horrible to watch
but they are making a player out of Tomkins who is really digging in.
Continues to look awkward at left back and we really are desperate for some
proper full backs because like Ben Haim this is just not his position and he
took was helped by some tracking back from Stanislas especially in the
Recalled from his loan spell and put straight into the starting line up on
the right wing. There cannot have been too many who would have thought this
as good idea but Freddie really worked hard and kept going for the full 90
minutes. I haven't seen much from Sears to suggest he is going to be a
Premiership player but I like many am desperate for him to do well and as
the game went on he grew in confidence and he must start the next game.
He ran, he worked, he tackled and attempted to pass the ball. He does none
of these things well but he gives it his best and until we have better
players available in this position we will just have to deal with Kovac. His
performance wasn't pretty and I think he looks too slow to play in this
division but as temporary back up he did as well as can be expected today.
Not involved as much as he usually is but he still played well and some of
his link up play was good to watch.
Is beginning to look like a proper player. Has a bit more bite to his game
and slight sense of arrogance which I think is important for a winger. He
was good on the ball and only his corner kicks let his performance down.
Largely ineffective in the first half and seemed to be looking for free
kicks most of the time but he scored that all important goal just before the
half time mark and in the second half he worked very hard playing in a
From the first ten minutes it was clear that Fulham had a problem dealing
with Cole and when he had the ball in at his feet he was generally quite
good which was a shock to many including myself. He took his goals well and
yes he did get a bit of luck but he had to finish them. Hopefully he can
pick up some form.
Frank Nouble (on for Piquionne 89 mins)
Still sporting those red boots and was on to give Piquionne a rest.
Subs Not Used: Boffin, Reid, Spector, Ilunga, Barrera, Obinna
Man Of The Match: Carlton Cole
Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Salcido, Davies, Etuhu
(E.Johnson 53), Murphy, Gera, Dempsey (Duff 53), A.Johnson
Subs: Stockdale, Baird, Halliche, Greening, Kamara
Attendance: 25, 332
We all knew that the festive period had to bring about a change in our
fortunes or 2011 will surely be a relegation year. Whilst this still may be
the case any win is welcome and I continue to hope that we can put a run
together but I was saying this for most of last season and we were never
able to find any consistency.
The ironic thing about this performance is that it wasn't as good as some
that we had lost and drawn in previous games this campaign.
The team was much changed yet again and Avram Grant must try and find a
settled side because for me that has been one of the reasons (there have
been many) why we have failed so badly this season.
Next Game - Everton (h)
Everton are not a side we usually do well against in fact our record in
generally quite dismal but hopefully this result will give us some much
needed confidence and produce a win on my birthday!
Off the bottom of the league finally and let's just hope it is onwards and
upwards from here.
The View From Avram
"It was a good game for us - we came back which was amazing," Fulham had a
lot of possession and they were controlling it without creating chances.
"I didn't like the goal we conceded but we scored three and we could have
scored more so I'm happy. "The players are happy with the win and they want
to taste it again." [On Cole] "I always say to the players, when you work
hard - we worked hard also in the first half - sometimes things like this
happen and you need to be awake. "He was very awake because it was dead ball
and he took the chance."