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Like loan signing Andy Carroll, the Hammers were head and shoulders above Fulham today

On a horrible afternoon in East London, very few Fulham players emerged with much credit. Dan Crawford runs the rule over the eleven Martin Jol selected and the substitutes he introduced:

Schwarzer: Little he could do with Kevin Nolan’s superbly taken first goal, but he failed to command his box in the manner we’ve come to expect of an experienced custodian for Winston Reid’s simple header and might have managed to get a hand to Matt Taylor’s daisycutter just before the break. On what was a largely frustrating afternoon, the Whites did have Schwarzer to thank for turning a fierce Mohamed Diame drive onto the crossbar. 6

Riether: An afternoon to forget for the German international, who has been so impressive since joining on loan earlier in the summer. Riether afforded Nolan far too much room to crash home the season’s fastest goal at the far post, although his mistimed tackle that felled Diame rather than Vaz Te, the man who was actually motoring down the West Ham right with the ball, towards the end of the first half, was the best moment of an utterly forgettable first 45 minutes. 5

Riise: The Norwegian might be wishing he missed this game as well. Having worked hard to prove his fitness and reclaim his first-team spot from Matthew Briggs, Riise endured a torrid afternoon up against the lively Vaz Te and the physical Carroll. He backed off his man far too often and failed to get forward to any great effect, with his failure to quell Carroll’s meandering infield from the touchline directly responsible for the ease with which Taylor was able to shoot from 20 yards and score the third. 5

Hangeland: The marking’s probably a little harsh here, but the look of sheer dejection after Taylor had put away the third four minutes before the break – with the captain’s hands resting resolutely on his hips rather like Johnny Haynes’ famous pose from the Sixties – will stay with me for a while. Hangeland was dominated in the air by Carroll and there was far too much space for West Ham to exploit between him and Hughes all afternoon. He was unlucky not to convert a header from a set piece in first half stoppage time, but unfortunately the game was well beyond Fulham at that point. 5

Hughes: The Northern Irish skipper had a tough afternoon at the heart of the Fulham defence. He coped as best he could, but proved unable to resist the pace and power that Sam Allardyce served up to the best of the most consistent central defensive partnerships in the league. Hughes wasn’t given much cover by his full-backs who should have played narrower to combat the way West Ham’s front three fed off Carroll’s physicality but by the time Jol had got his message across it was too late to recover any ground. 5

Diarra: Fulham badly needed Diarra at his dominant best screening the centre backs and seeing off Carroll’s aerial prowess. He had a case for being fouled by the tall centre forward at the near post when Reid arrived to head in the second, but someone of his experience simply shouldn’t have gone to ground so easily under a threatening high ball. He was combative in midfield, but by the time Diarra had secured a foothold the game had passed Fulham by. 6

Sidwell: This was a continuation of Sidwell’s woes from Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday. There was all hustle and bustle and missed tackles and it was much the same today. Rather than reading the game and picking up the loose ball, Sidwell was desperate to show he was back to full fitness. He showed for the ball regularly and chased back into dangerous areas admirably but was never able to get on the ball and hurt West Ham in the final third. It’s harsh to judge a returnee on two disappointing time performances but I don’t believe he’s the long-term partner for Diarra in that central midfield role. 5

Richardson: This was one of those afternoons where you really felt for a new boy. Richardson must have had nothing more than one training session with Fulham and, having been short of football at Sunderland this summer, it was a very tough ask for him to come into the frenetic pace of a London derby and fit in alongside his new team-mates. He showed for the ball regularly and offered Fulham’s first foray forward, with a low shot that Jaaskelainen did well to paw away at his far post, but you’ll see far better for him once he’s settled into his new surroundings. 6

Rodallega: Poor about covers it. Rodallega looked marginally more effective as a lone striker ready to scare defenders with his pace at Hillsborough but, playing out on the left, he didn’t get through half the diligent work necessary to give Riise the protection he needed when faced the rampaging Vaz Te and Demel down that flank. Rodallega looked far more useful once Berbatov had arrived and might have scored twice were it not for two fine saves from Jaaskelainen. 5

Duff: You had to feel for Damien Duff. He worked his socks off again but just didn’t receive enough of the ball to threaten Joey O’Brien. The experienced winger seemed a good bet to add to his two Premier League strikes as he skipped past O’Brien’s attentions in the first twenty minutes but his tracking back was more evident that his dribbling in the final third as Fulham sunk without trace during the first half. One thing’s for sure – Duff’s energetic displays have ensured he has forced his way back in Jol’s first eleven, something that was in doubt for the first six months of the new manager’s reign. 6

Petric: This was a very¬†tough task against two physical centre backs, especially when he didn’t appear fully fit. He barely had a sight of goal and used his silky skills to search for team-mates rather than having a go himself. Somewhat harshly withdrawn at half-time for Dimitar Berbatov, but will probably be deployed either in a wide left role or behind the Bulgarian in the weeks to come. 6

SUBSTITUTES

Berbatov (replaced Petric 45): Oozed class from the moment he joined the action after half time. He was eager to make an impression, from his first sublime touch to those clever flicks that linked the play. His intelligent running and football brain made Fulham instantly look far more threatening and this cameo offered enough for this correspondent to confidently predict that he’ll turn in some eye-catching performances at the Cottage before the season’s out. 7

Kacaniklic (replaced Richardson 59): I felt the Swedish winger was rather harshly dropped after his fine performances against Norwich and Manchester United and a creditable effort up at Hillsborough. He was eager and willing to run at his full-back and carry the ball in field with real intent, something that was badly lacking from the Whites in the first hour. It says something for the Swede’s development over the last eight months that he’s now considered a key part of the first-team having started the calendar year on loan at Watford. 6