West Ham are Fuller misery
West Ham United 0 Stoke City 1 By DAVE EVANS at Upton Park GIANFRANCO ZOLA S future as West Ham manager and the Hammers survival in the Premier League were plunged deeper into doubt with this disastrous home defeat against Stoke City. Ricardo Fuller,
West Ham United 0 Stoke City 1
By DAVE EVANS at Upton Park
GIANFRANCO ZOLA'S future as West Ham manager and the Hammers survival in the Premier League were plunged deeper into doubt with this disastrous home defeat against Stoke City.
Ricardo Fuller, sent off here last season after fighting with one of his own players, exacted sweet revenge, as he came off the bench to score the winning goal with his first run with the ball.
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Zola rang the changes before this game with Mido, Kieron Dyer, Mark Noble and Manuel Da Costa being drafted in, but it was a nervous Hammers side that began this game.
Liam Lawrence shot over after clearly handballing early on, before Mamady Sidibe met a corner to the far post only for Mido to block the shot.
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West Ham looked up for the fight and they should have gone closer when Carlton Cole fed Dyer down the right and his cross was headed way over by Mido.
He should have got closer and he was guilty again on 35 minutes when Cole turned his man and saw his shot parried straight into the path of the Egyptian striker.
However, with the goal at his mercy, he failed to control and then fell over.
Scott Parker did his best, as usual, to rally the team and he sprang forward before slipping the ball to Cole who was denied by the body of Thomas Sorensen.
There was still hope going into the second half, especially when Italian Alessandro Diamanti was introduced, but the Hammers seemed bereft of ideas and nervous at the other end.
Parker and Cole both forced comfortable saves from the keeper, while Noble ballooned another effort over the top, but on 69 minutes came the killer blow.
Fuller had only been on two minutes when he collected the ball, jinked past Da Costa, then past Matty Upson before firing past Robert Green from close range.
Stoke almost made it two when Tuncay's shot was only parried into the path of Rory Delap, but he could not quite turn the ball into the net.
West Ham threw caution to the wind. Ilan, then Benni McCarthy were introduced, but they could not carve out a decent chance. Jonathan Spector beat his man, but then shot wide, while Valon Behrami slipped a pass to McCarthy who beat Robert Huth but could not quite get his shot in.
Spector's cross for Cole to head harmlessly wide was their last half chance of the match and summed up their ineffectiveness as with Hull City winning, the spectre of relegation draws ever closer.
West Ham: Green, Faubert, Spector, Upson, Da Costa, Behrami, Parker, Noble (Ilan 76), Dyer (Diamanti h/t), Mido (McCarthy 84), Cole. Unused subs: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Kovac, Daprela.
Attendance: 34,564. Referee: Andre Marriner (6).