All good things have to come to end and our run juddered to a spectacular halt at Upton Park this afternoon. Now most Fulham fans can take losing – after all we’ve become accustomed to it over the years – but the abject manner of our defeat was distubring. For a team whose success this season has been built on a solid defence, the way we gifted West Ham three goals was unfortgiveable.
Perhaps John Pantsil was nervous about coming back to a ground where he never really proved himself. It was a question he was asked in the build-up to the game and he batted it away rather dismissively. But his inability to either clear a cross or guide it back to Mark Schwarzer gave us a real mountain to climb. David Di Michele can’t ever have scored an easier goal.
Paul Konchesky seems a very likeable guy. He scored a blinding goal from nothing to get us back into the contest, but his inexplicable dallying on the ball with Carlton Cole bearing down on him arguably cost us the game. More galling was the fact that his error came at a time when we were probably having our best spell of the match. We’d just managed to start getting the likes of Dempsey and Johnson involved and, indeed, the goal came from a promising attack that had broken down. When you recall that a very similar moment of madness on the edge of his own box cost us a point at Hull on the opening day, you do wonder what was going through his head.
I’ve made a point of praising Dickson Etuhu for adding a bit more bite into our midfield of late but he was horribly culpable for the third goal that clinched it. He looked petrified when he received the ball from Danny Murphy and his return ball when Murphy was being closed down by two claret and blue shirts was criminal.
We didn’t play as well as we can but there was a spell in the second half at 1-1 as the game was opening up where it was there for the taking. Should keep producing individual errors like those, there’s only one direction we’ll be going and that’s down the table. What seemed like optimistic talk of Europe now seems a million miles away. That kind of inspid performance surely won’t be tolerated by Hodgson. Let’s just hope we come back a little stronger.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Illunga, Collins, Upson; Behrami, Parker, Noble (Faubert 81), Collison (Mullins 83); Di Michele (Dyer 87), Cole. Subs (not used): Stech, Boa Morte, Tristan, Sears.
GOALS: Di Michele (7), Noble (pen 60), Cole (76).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland; Davies (Gera 74), Dempsey, Murphy, Etuhu (Andreasen 84); A. Johnson, Zamora (Nevland 72). Subs (not used): Zuberbuhler, Gray, Kallio, Baird.
BOOKED: Pantsil, Davies, Konchesky.
GOAL: Konchesky (22).
REFEREE: Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent)