Cole on fire

Carlton Cole underlined why he is the most in-form striker in the Barclays Premier League after registering in the fifth consecutive game on Sunday to help seal a 3-1 win against Fulham.

The No12 has scored nine goals in 21 league and cup games this season - all from open play - and was clinical again this weekend. His first major moment was to win the crucial penalty on the hour that allowed Mark Noble to restore the Hammers' lead. Paul Konchesky had earlier equalised David Di Michele's strike.

Cole, who was awarded a new five-year contract recently, then rounded off an imperious personal display with a goal of his own, finishing a fine team move with 14 minutes left on the clock by latching on to the lively Di Michele's through-ball and beating Mark Schwarzer with a neat finish. The celebrations - whereby he was lifted off the ground by delighted team-mates - emphasised the spirit in the squad.

The club are up to eighth but, for all the celebrations, Cole is not getting too carried away. "We're happy with the result, which has put us in a strong position to climb up the table and hopefully we can keep on doing it. We have just got to keep on going. There are a lot of things going on off the field which is uncontrollable and we can only control the controllable."

In many ways it was the spot-kick that proved the turning point and underlined why Gianfranco Zola described the striker as the difference between the teams. The 25-year-old seized on Konchesky's mistake to race into the area before being upended by the former Hammers full-back.

"It was a massive moment in the game. The boys just dug in and we thought that we could get something from the game at the start of it. In the second half we wanted to keep hounding them and knocking on the door."

Cole is in the form of his life and would have no doubt caught the eye of the watching England manager Fabio Capello. "It's the most confident I've ever felt in my career. It is confidence and the manager putting faith in me and I've got the boys around me giving me assists so I can't really ask for more than that."