Ferdinand fires in derby winner

A stirring second-half performance saw West Ham United come from behind to claim their first victory of 2008 and leave faltering Fulham deep in trouble.

Although Simon Davies gave the visitors an early lead, Dean Ashton equalised on the half-hour mark before Anton Ferdinand secured all three points with his second goal in a fortnight. The match also finished on an additional high with the late introduction of Julien Faubert for his West Ham United debut after six months out with an achilles injury.

Alan Curbishley had made two enforced changes following last Saturday's goalless FA Cup third-round draw with Manchester City, as Jonathan Spector came in for Lucas Neill (hamstring), while Freddie Ljungberg replaced John Pantsil, who is involved in Ghana's African Cup of Nations challenge.

Fit-again Faubert was named on the bench for the first time since his £6.1m summer arrival from Bordeaux and the Frenchman was joined by former Fulham favourite Luis Boa Morte, alongside James Collins, Lee Bowyer and Richard Wright.  There was a welcome sight in the Fulham dug-out, too, as Jimmy Bullard, who had once sat on the West Ham United bench as an unused substitute at Liverpool in February 1999, was named in the Cottagers' 16 for the first time in 16 months.

Sitting in 19th-place, and without a win since 3 November, lowly Fulham made two switches following last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Bristol Rovers at Craven Cottage, as Steve Davis and Chris Baird came in for Hameur Bouazza and substitute, Alexei Smertin. Roy Hodgson's side kicked-off looking to arrest a ten-game winless streak and they certainly could not have got off to a better start.

With just seven minutes on the clock, Davies, out on the left touchline, curled over a 25-yard free-kick which flashed across the face of Carlos Bocanegra before ending up in the far corner of the bemused Robert Green's net. Not even the loss of Bocanegra on the quarter-hour mark with a facial injury could rock the Cottagers' confidence as Curbishley's men struggled to find the pace and power that has served them so well in recent weeks.

But as the half-hour mark approached, their first cohesive move of the afternoon produced a stunning dividend, when the bloodied Ljungberg, who had also been clouted in the face, outwitted ex-Boleyn Ground defender Paul Konchesky before inviting Ashton to lose substitute Aaron Hughes and send a powerful six-yard header beyond Antti Niemi.

Having seen the West Ham United striker finally give the claret and blue fans amongst the sell-out crowd of 34,947 something to cheer with his sixth goal of the season, the men from the east end quickly went in search of second against the boys from out west, as Ferdinand met Mark Noble's corner with a downward header that the Fulham keeper saved.

And only the heroics of Niemi continued to prevent West Ham United from taking an interval lead as the flying Finn tipped Ashton's goalbound volley on to the crossbar, before clawing out another scorcher from the home striker and denying Carlton Cole from close-range, too.

Just after the restart, Ashton hooked across the face of goal and, as the visitors from the banks of the River Thames continued to find themselves submerged under the flood of home pressure, Konchesky nodded Cole's header off the line after Matthew Etherington sent Noble's short-corner into the danger zone. Midway through the half, the timely intervention of Dejan Stefanovic denied the breaking Cole, who then retired in place of Boa Morte in a switch that reaped almost instant rewards.

Indeed, after the Portuguese substitute and the lively Ljungberg forced a 68th-minute corner that was consequently cleared and then nodded back towards the goal-line, the never-say-die attitude of Noble saw him arrive in the nick of time to hook a low cut-back into the path of Ferdinand, who lashed the ball high into the net from eight yards.

The stumbling Ashton then bundled then Ljungberg's cross wide before the ubiquitous Noble found himself back on his own goal-line to scramble Clint Demspey's header away, while Baird also nodded over as Fulham desperately tried to get back into the contest.

That was the cue for Hodgson to introduce Bullard to a generous Boleyn Ground reception alongside Smertin as Maurice Volz and David Healy departed. Their arrival did little to resurrect Fulham's fortunes though against a Matthew Upson-captained West Ham United side that enjoyed the added bonus of Faubert making a long-awaited, late cameo appearance.

Click here for the official team sheet.