By Tom Dowsett
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It was another midweek away game and yet another defeat for West Ham United and the 3-1 loss to Fulham on Wednesday night means they have now not won in the league since New Year's Day.
Sam Allardyce made four changes to the side that were outclassed in the defeat by Arsenal last week. Marouane Chamakh returned in place of Carlton Cole who dropped to the bench. Jack Collison, Ricardo Vaz Te and Matthew Taylor also made way for Matt Jarvis, Joe Cole and Mohamed Diame. Andy Carroll was back involved for the first time since getting injured against Manchester United in November and was joined by new signing Emanuel Pogatetz on the bench.
Although West Ham started brightly and had an effort that went just wide in the opening 20 seconds, Fulham soon began to get a foothold in the game, though the Hammers had a couple of chances blocked. Martin Jol's side seemed to dominate proceedings and their pressure paid off on ten minutes when the hosts earned themselves a freekick which Damien Duff pumped into the box, Bryan Ruiz flicked on and Dimitar Berbatov shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen. There were huge suspicions about the Bulgarian striker being in an offside position.
The East Londoners had the chance to equalise when Jarvis and Diame set up captain Kevin Nolan, but he headed wide of the far post.
Fulham nearly increased the lead just before the break, when Berbatov raced past the skipper and Winston Reid before unleashing a low drive that clipped the post. Fortunately, West Ham went into the break only a goal behind.
West Ham were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and equalised just three minutes in when a great ball from Mark Noble set up Nolan, who got past Berbatov and sent a shot across Mark Schwarzer and into the the back of the net.
A minute later Fulham had restored their lead when Duff sent a left footed cross into the box and Hugo Rodallega rose above Reid to head past Jaaskelainen from six yards out.
On 56 minutes, a change was made by Big Sam as Carlton Cole came on to replace Chamakh and ten minutes later, Guy Demel was replaced by Taylor, meaning that Joey O'Brien moved to right-back and the substitute took his place in the left-back.
The visitors had the chance to draw level on 70 minutes when Nolan sped past Berbatov and tried a shot, which Schwarzer got a touch on and parried it away for a corner. From the resulting kick, James Tomkins headed the ball over.
Allardyce made his final change in 76 minutes, as Carroll replaced Joe Cole. The Liverpool loanee was immediately involved forcing a decent save from Schwarzer following a layoff from Carlton Cole.
In the closing stages of the game, the Cottagers had the chance to make sure of all three points when Hugo Rodallega found Mladen Petric who did well to get past Reid and shoot. Jaaskelainen fumbled but thankfully Tomkins was on hand to hack the ball clear.
With three minutes of normal time to play, the visitors could have equalised when Tomkins had time and space to control the ball, instead he chose to head and the chance went over the bar.
Fulham grabbed the winner in stoppage time and it was a messy goal from West Ham's point of view, as Ashkan Dejagah and Sascha Riether combined before the German set up Rodallega, whose shot came back off the Hammers' goalkeeper and straight to Petric. His effort came off the Finn, hit the post and went into the net off the unfortunate O'Brien.
So that's three consecutive London Derby's played and the Irons only have one point to show for their efforts. They remain in London for their next game on Saturday afternoon, where they will be hoping for a better outcome when Swansea City arrive at Upton Park.
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