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Kevin Nolan scores for West Ham and Andy Carroll returns, but it is another miserable away day for the Hammers

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Fulham 3 West Ham United 1

The Hammers travel sickness continued at Craven Cottage, where defeat in this District Line derby now means that Sam Allardyce’s side have picked up just one point from their last seven away-days.

Dimitar Berbatov gave Fulham a tenth-minute lead with his eighth goal of the season before Kevin Nolan levelled just after the restart only for Hugo Rodallega to instantly hit back and then Mladen Petric sealed victory in stoppage time when his effort was turned into his opwn net by Joey O’Brien, as Fulham leap-frogged wobbling West Ham United in the Premier League table.

Both sides had suffered heavy losses last time out and, following his excruciating evening at the Emirates last Wednesday night, Allardyce made four changes from his 12th-placed side that had lost 1-5 at Arsenal.

Marouane Chamakh, Joe Cole, Matt Jarvis and the reportedly unsettled Mohamed Diame each came in for Jack Collison and substitutes Carlton Cole, Matt Taylor and Ricardo Vaz Te, who took their seats in the dug-out alongside on-loan Emanuel Pogatetz and a fit-again Andy Carroll.

Kicking off two points and two places below the visitors, Fulham had not fared much better in their FA Cup fourth round, tea-time tie at Old Trafford on Saturday and Martin Jol responded to his side’s 1-4 defeat by recalling Rodallega, Philippe Senderos and Giorgos Karagounis in place of Alex Kacaniklic plus substitutes Chris Baird and Aaron Hughes, who joined Arsenal’s on-loan Emanuel Frimpong on the bench.

And after dominating the opening exchanges, feisty Fulham almost drew first blood on six minutes, when Bryan Ruiz let fly with a wicked 18-yarder that swerved and curved through the blustery Thames side air before being beaten out by the relieved Jussi Jaaskelainen.

John Arne Riise then sent a low, angled shot-cum-cross into a packed penalty area but fortunately for the Hammers no Fulham boot was on hand to prod home.

With ten minutes on the clock, though, Jol’s side did break the deadlock, when Winston Reid hauled down Ruiz on the right-hand flank and Damien Duff curled the consequent free-kick into the box.

But just when it looked like the Irish international’s centre had eluded everything both white and claret-and-blue, Berbatov – looking suspiciously offside – arrived at the far post to nod the ball over the line from the tightest of tight angles, a split-second before his momentum almost propelled him over the crash barrier into the dejected West Ham fans.

Having got one, the confident Cottagers soon went in search of a second and after Rodallega fired over from range, Duff drilled in a low, left wing cross that again only needed a touch.

In reply, the Hammers were more pre-occupied with the Fulham threat and apart from forcing a trio of corners and seeing Jarvis head high over, they had created little for lone-striker Chamakh but on the half-hour mark, Nolan sent a downward header inches wide after Jarvis delivered a hanging cross to the far upright.

Shortly afterwards, Steve Sidwell was booked for a nasty lunge on Diame that could have ended all that transfer window talk but fortunately for both the Senegal international and West Ham, the midfielder rose to his feet and following a brief scuffle involving a dozen or so players, referee Chris Foy booked the Cottagers’ chopper.

With a one-sided first-half drawing to a close, the alert Jaaskelainen bravely claimed the ball off of Rodallega’s toes before the barnstorming Berbatov scorched forward to the edge of the area, where he fired just a layer of paint wide of the left-hand upright.

The paint was probably blistering on the walls of the visitor’s dressing room at the interval, too, but whatever Big Sam had said to his lacklustre eleven at the break looked to have had a desired and instant effect.

Indeed, within just two minutes of the restart West Ham levelled, when Mark Noble chipped a clever free-kick into the left-hand channel of the Fulham area, where the alert Nolan peeled away from marker Berbatov, before sending an angled ten-yarder across Mark Schwarzer and into the far corner.

Having not been seen since his winning goal at Newcastle United, the Nolan chicken was back after a two-month absence, but having just celebrated his sixth goal of the campaign with the delighted East Enders packed behind Schwarzer’s goal, the Hammers skipper quickly saw his wings clipped.

For within seconds, another lighting raid down the left wing lead to Duff sending another pin-point cross into the six-yard box, where Rodallega climbed above both James Tomkins and Joey O’Brien to nod Fulham back into the lead with his third goal of the season.

Allardyce then introduced Carlton Cole and Taylor in place of the anonymous Chamakh and Guy Demel, while Jol also pitched Baird and Ashkan Dejagah on for Karagounis and Ruiz.

With 20 minutes remaining, Nolan burst into the area once more, where Schwarzer got a fingernail onto his low, angled, goal-bound shot, while at the other end Berbatov sent a 20-yard swerving just past the far post.

That was to be the Bulgarian’s final act of the evening and, after seeing the Fulham striker hobbling away to be replaced by Petric, Big Sam brought on Carroll for Joe Cole.

Big Andy wasted no time announcing his arrival with a low 20-yard effort that Schwarzer gratefully gathered at the base of his left-hand post and, suddenly with Carroll and Carlton Cole forming a formidable front line, the Hammers purposely went in search of a late-leveller.

With both sides now lining up in 4-4-2 formations it was opening up at both ends and although Carroll unleashed another effort that flew high into the Hammers fans and Tomkins headed wide, it was Fulham, who would have the final word.

Seconds into stoppage time, Rodallega saw his low 15-yard shot parried aside by Jaaskelainen and from the by-line Petric seized onto the loose ball to prod home his sixth goal of the campaign with the help of a ricochet off the near post and a deflection off O’Brien on the goal-line.

COTTAGERS: Schwarzer, Riether, Riise, Senderos, Hangeland, Ruiz (Dejagah 65), Duff, Karagounis (Baird 65), Sidwell, Rodallega, Berbatov (Petric 75). Unused subs: Etheridge, Frimpong, Hughes, Davies.

HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel (Taylor 65), O’Brien, Reid, Tomkins, Diame, Nolan, Noble, J. Cole (Carroll 76), Jarvis, Chamakh (C. Cole 55). Unused subs: Henderson, Vaz Te, Pogatetz, O’Neil.

Bookings: Sidwell (31), Riether (57)

Referee: Chris Foy

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