West Ham full-back Paul Konchesky was sent off as both the Hammers and Fulham missed good chances in an entertaining derby draw at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Konchesky was shown a straight red card for bringing down Wayne Routledge as the winger surged through on goal with six minutes left. Fulham couldn’t press home their numerical advantage in the closing stages on an afternoon of poor finishing all round. Marlon Harewood managed to hit the post from six yards out when it looked simpler to score – but he was far from the only offender.
Matthew Etherington’s shot struck the bar and was scrambled away by Liam Rosenior, who also cleared from Harewood. Fulham missed several presentable opportunities with Brian McBride shooting straight at Rob Green before Tomasz Radzinski, Heidar Helguson and Moritz Volz will feel they should have done better. Fulham’s long list of injury casualties increased yesterday when Zat Knight fractured his jaw and Chris Coleman may regard this as a point gained given his strained resources.
Harewood fired the first chance wide after being found by a forward ball from Konchesky before Christian Dailly halted a promising run from Radzinski with an excellent sliding tackle. Konchesky then prevented Routledge from seizing on a Radzinski cross in the nick of time after Bobby Zamora almost opened the deadlock from a tight angle.
The Hammers should have gone ahead in seventeenth minute when Etherington’s looping header from a Lee Bowyer corner bounced down off the crossbar and Rosenior headed away with Mullins firing the loose ball wide. Reo-Coker blazed over from Harewood’s intelligent cross before McBride brought a brilliant save out of Green with a free-kick that threatened to bend in.
Harewood wasted the best chance of the contest when he cut inside Carlos Bocanegra and hammered against the post from close range after latching onto Lee Bowyer’s cross. Fulham’s last attack of the half saw Volz venture onto a wonderful ball from Routledge but the German took too long to line up a shot and Green slid in brilliantly to avert the danger.
A man of McBride’s aerial ability will believe he should have put the hosts ahead in the second half instead of nod straight at Green from twelve yards when unmarked and found by a superb Radzinski cross. Rosenior then cleared from Harewood at point blank range after Niemi had spread himself well to deny Reo-Coker, who was then cautioned for a nasty tackle on McBride. Harewood threaded a superb pass through the Fulham defence to release Yossi Benayoun but Niemi thwarted the Israeli midfielder impressively.
West Ham’s push for a winner was disrupted by Konchesky’s sending off for lunging in on Routledge as he sped towards goal but Curbishley’s men successfully saw off Fulham’s final attacks to claim a point.
FULHAM (4-4-2): Niemi; Rosenior, Quedrue, Bocanegra, Christanval; Brown, Volz, Radzinski, Routledge; Helguson, McBride.
Subs (not used): Lastuvka, Zakuani, Omozusi, N. Jensen, Runstrom.
BOOKED: Helguson (36,f).
WEST HAM UNITED (4-4-2): Green, Spector, Ferdinand, Dailly, Konchesky; Bowyer (Benayoun 59), Reo-Coker, Mullins, Etherington; Harewood (McCartney 86), Zamora (Sheringham 70). Subs (not used): Carroll, Tevez.
BOOKED: Spector, Reo-Coker.
SENT OFF: Konchesky.
REFEREE: Chris Foy (Merseyside).