For Franck Quedrue on Wednesday, see Philippe Christanval this afternoon. Just like at the Valley before Christmas, Fulham scored five minutes into injury time to rescue a point against a relegation-threatened opponent. This time it was West Ham, who were already down to ten men after Graham Poll’s controversial dismissal of Bobby Zamora, who suffered stoppage-time heartache.
Alan Curbishley could console himself with the fact that the Hammers had at least stopped the rot of three dreadful defeats. Those of a West Ham persuasion would justifiably argue that Poll’s decision to send off Zamora and show eleven cards in what wasn’t a dirty game by any stretch changed the complexion of the contest. Curbishley was convinced that Poll had missed a foul by Moritz Volz on Christian Dailly right before Fulham’s equaliser. Perhaps he should get in touch with his predecessor Alan Pardew, who fumed about the referee’s incorrect awarding of the free-kick that produced Fulham’s leveller in south London.
That there was such a crushing sense of disappointment around Upton Park was understandable. West Ham lost James Collins and Carlos Tevez to injury within the first twelve minutes and were soon behind when Tomasz Radzinski turned home Heider Helguson’s header. That they fought back so manfully will encourage Curbishley that his new charges will be up for the many battles that are to come. Zamora, who scored hundredth league goal, was excellent and the manner of his expulsion – for a second yellow card after a foul on Liam Rosenior seemed harsh.
That the hosts were in a winning position was thanks to the brilliance of Yossi Benayoun. The Israeli midfielder dinked in delightfully at the start of the second half and produced a brilliant second to profit from a Carlos Bocanegra mistake. Those goals came either side of a trademark Brian McBride header that hinted at the Hammers’ defensive vulnerabilities, but they seemed like they would be enough. Benayoun even scrambled another McBride header off the line before we headed into injury time.
The sub-plot of the afternoon had been Luis Boa Morte’s immediate reunion with his former employers. Coleman insisted he wasn’t bitter in the build up but felt the Portuguese winger hadn’t been fully committed to Fulham in the months before his departure. West Ham’s new signing might have made his old boss eat his words but he missed two glorious chances to put the game beyond the visitors.
That meant that Fulham had reason to storm forward once Zamora had been red-carded and their belief in late goals has only been enhanced by a festive period that has seen the Cottagers steal late points at Stamford Bridge, the Valley and now the Boleyn Ground. Fulham sent a series of high balls in the home box and, when a McBride back header bounced inviting for him, Christanval volleyed majestically past Roy Carroll with the all the poise of a centre forward.
WEST HAM UNITED (4-4-2): Carroll; Dailly, Collins (Spector 11), Gabbidon (Newton 81), McCartney; Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Quashie, Boa Morte; Cole, Tevez (Zamora 13). Subs (not used): Green, Mullins.
Fulham manager Chris Coleman could recall French centre-back Philippe Christanval for the visit of Arsenal on Wednesday night after Franck Queudrue was ruled out for up to a month with a badly-gashed ankle.
Christanval, the former AS Monaco, Barcelona and Marseille defender, had a trial with Arsenal at the start of last season but joined the Cottagers instead.
The 27-year-old, injured for much of last season, was first choice at the start of the current campaign but played his first 90 minutes since damaging his knee in September for the reserves last week.
Fulham will also be without Ian Pearce for the Barclays Premiership clash, as he is serving a suspension after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat by Reading at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
He was red-carded by referee Dermot Gallagher when he gave away the decisive penalty by tripping Royals striker Kevin Doyle, who scored from the spot in the 17th minute.
And although Queudrue switched from left-back to replace Pearce, he did not emerge for the second half due to his injury.
Coleman said: “It is a bad one for Franck. We were disappointed with the challenge even though I don’t think the guy meant to do it, but he got it wrong.”
Queudrue was rushed to hospital for treatment and stitches and Coleman added: “We are looking at three weeks to a month out for Franck because the gash in his ankle is so nasty.
“We’ve got nobody else who can play centre-half and it looked at one time as though we might have to play big Dave Beasant (the club’s goalkeeping coach and former Wimbledon, Chelsea and Newcastle goalkeeper) at centre-half on Wednesday.”
That may be unlikely as Beasant – most remembered for his penalty save for Wimbledon in the shock 1988 FA Cup Final win against Liverpool – is 10 years older than Coleman.
Christanval played the first three games of the season alongside Pearce and looks the only realistic replacement, provided he suffers no reaction to his reserve team run-out.
Fulham are facing their third defeat in a row against the inconsistent Gunners but Coleman denies there is a lack of spirit in the camp after right-back Liam Rosenior, 20, had a blazing row during the Reading game with skipper Luis Boa Morte.
Coleman added: “Liam has his own opinion even though he is only 20, and he and Luis were having a right ding-dong in the dressing room at half-time as well.
“But that was music to my ears because I like the verbals. I encourage people to give their opinion and the team spirit here is good, it’s fantastic.”
Mark Pembridge and Phillipe Christanval continued their encouraging comeback from injury by featuring as Fulham’s reserves were beaten 1-0 by West Ham.
Welsh veteran Pembridge, who has yet to play for the first team this season after enduring an injury-ravaged campaign, played the first half before being taken off in a planned substitution. French utility man Christanval came through the full ninety minutes unscathed after also operating in midfield.
Reserve team boss Billy McKinlay told Fulham’s official website:
“It was great to see Pem back. He played only 45 minutes which was planned. He probably could have stayed out there a lot longer but we didn’t want to abuse the situation. Phillippe did well, his passing and movement in midfield was different class.”
Fulham have signed French defender Philippe Christanval on a free transfer.
The former Barcelona defender has been searching for a new club since his release by Marseille at the end of last season and had an unsuccessful trial with Arsenal in the summer. Chris Coleman moved quickly to capture the 27 year-old, who has agreed a three-year deal at Craven Cottage.
Coleman said: “I am glad that we have been able to add another new face to the squad to give us the strength in depth that I felt we have been lacking. Philippe’s credentials speak for themselves and I have no doubt that he will prove to be a model professional and a great addition to the squad. We have a great spirit here and a fantastic group of guys, and I have no doubt that if we work hard together, that we can achieve things.”
Christanval, who has won two caps for France, told Fulham’s official website: “I am happy to join Fulham and to play in the Premier League where each match is played at an exciting high tempo. There is a nice atmosphere around the training ground and I am looking forward to working with all of the players and being a big part of Fulham’s future campaigns.”