Fulham and West Ham will meet again in East London to decide who will progress to the FA Cup quarter finals after a goalless draw at Loftus Road. Despite the scoreline, this was far from a dour draw and there was plenty of goalmouth action in an entertaining encounter.
Edwin van der Sar was on an excellent to keep the Hammers at bay making a terrific reaction stop to deny Marlon Harewood after just ten seconds. West Ham, roared on by 3,000 travelling fans, had to do without six Cup-tied members of their first-team squad but comfortably had the better of the first half. David Connolly almost sneaked a low shot past van der Sar from a tight angle and the Dutch keeper threw himself across the goalline to keep out Brian Deane’s header before denying Connolly right on the half-time whistle.
Fulham’s goal threat in the first threat amounted to a freakish attempt from Carlos Bocanegra as the American defender carried the ball into the West Ham box and then struck the far post when his looping cross-cum-shot nearly caught out Stephen Bywater. The Hammers were on the front foot in the early part of the second half as well and Deane should have done better than blaze over the bar after van der Sar pushed away Matthew Etherington’s cross.
Coleman’s charges looked most threatening on the break. One lightning raid from a West Ham corner almost saw Sean Davis break the deadlock but Bywater claimed his deft header. Moritz Volz hit a rising drive fractionally over the crossbar from the edge of the box and Bywater spread himself well to thwart Sylvain Legwinski after a well-worked Fulham move.
van der Sar was called on again to prevent the Division One outfit from securing an upset. He punched away a cross just as Connolly seemed set to put the Hammers in front and recovered in time to block Michael Carrick’s goalbound follow-up. The two sides will meet again at Upton Park on February 24.
FULHAM (4-4-2): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Goma; Legwinski, Davis, Malbranque, Boa Morte (Petta 67); McBride, Hayles. Subs (not used): Crossley, Green, Djetou, Inamoto.
BOOKED: Hayles, Bocanegra.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-3-3): Bywater; Repka, Mullins, Dailly, Ferdinand; Carrick, Horlock, Etherington; Connolly (Lomas 90), Harewood, Deane (Mellor 79). Subs (not used): Shaaban, Quinn, Carole.
REFEREE: Graham Poll (Hertfordshire).