Hammers begin 2014 with Fulham loss

Fulham 2-1 West Ham United
Barclays Premier League

There was no New Year's Day cheer for West Ham United as they saw a lead go to waste at Fulham.

Mohamed Diame fired the Hammers into an early lead, but Steve Sidwell's equaliser, coupled with Kevin Nolan's red card, meant the Cottagers went into the break happier.

Fulham made their extra man count in the second period with Dimitar Berbatov notching the winner 24 minutes from time.

The defeat leaves the Hammers in the bottom three ahead of another crucial Barclays Premier League match at Cardiff City.

West Ham started brightly in the driving rain at Craven Cottage and Nolan found himself clear in the left channel on five minutes, but couldn't beat David Stockdale in the Fulham goal from a tight angle.

Two minutes later though, the home stopper was powerless to prevent Diame from giving West Ham the lead when he collected Jussi Jaaskelainen's long free-kick, turned and fired into the net.

West Ham looked capable of getting at the home defence early on and Nolan had a great chance to double the advantage on 23 minutes when Diame picked him out with a cross to the back post, but the skipper's header was blocked by Stockdale, whose star jump provided an effective barrier.

That sparked the Cottagers into life and as they began to dominate possession, the chances started to come.

With 28 minutes played, Fernando Amorebieta beat Jussi Jaaskelainen to Damien Duff's right wing corner, but Modibo Maiga was stationed on the line to knock clear.

Their next corner, four minutes later, proved more profitable, as Sidwell got on the end of Duff's delivery to crash a header home.

A minute later the home side almost completed the swiftest of turnarounds when Richardson got in down the left. His clipped effort travelled all the way across the area, where Adel Taarabt picked up possession and fired a low shot against the base of the post.

Then on the stroke of half-time, the Hammers' task was made all the more difficult when Nolan saw red for kicking out at Amorebieta as the pair chased a ball into the channel.

Fulham kept up the pressure at the start of the second period as John Arne Riise skipped past Joey O'Brien in the area, but couldn't force the ball past Jaaskelainen.

The Hammers keeper then had to save from George McCartney as his header following Berbatov's cross skidded towards his own goal.

Fulham were getting closer and closer and Jaaskelainen had to claw Taarabt's back post header onto the upright, before the home man fired the rebound wide.

The Hammers could not hold out, and midway through the half Fulham made the most of a three-on-one situation, with Scott Parker steering Alex Kacaniklic's cross into Barbatov's path to tap home.

Sub Darren Bent had a golden chance to add to the lead on 71 minutes when he raced clear only to shoot at Jaaskelainen, and while Alou Diarra headed a Matt Taylor free-kick over the top and Stewart Downing shot wide, the Hammers were unable to trouble Stockdale again as Fulham claimed the derby spoils

Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Senderos, Amorebieta, Riise; Parker, Sidwell; Duff (Kasami 78), Taarabt (Bent 69), Richardson (Kacaniklic 56); Berbatov
Subs: Bettinelli, Hughes, Dejagah, Dembele

Goals: Sidwell 32, Berbatov 66

Booked: Berbatov, Amorebieta

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen; Demel, O'Brien, Diarra, McCartney, Taylor; Nolan, Collison, Noble (Rat 32), Diame (Downing 56); Maiga (C.Cole 69)
Subs: Adrian, Jarvis, J.Cole, Potts

Goal: Diame 7

Booked: Rat

Sent off: Nolan

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Attendance: 25,335