West Ham 3 Fulham 1
There’s a strange atmosphere in the ground. No-one’s had time for lunch or a drink, the Bellamy affair has shocked everyone, the crowd is down to 31,000 and it’s all a bit subdued bar the odd chant of “Who needs Craig Bellamy?”
Beforehand there’s just time for a cup of Rosie Lea in Ken’s, where Groundhopper Nigel (just four to go) takes the news that I’ve accepted Big Joe’s spare ticket to Hartlepool with great equanimity and a cry of “Eh tu Brute?”. He's just back from a mini-break in Rome with CQ, having collected some Lazio souvenirs and possibly run with the Ultras. Could that be a flare in his pocket?
On the pitch Di Michele replaces the wantaway, sulking Bellamy. Pantsil, Zamora and Konchesky all receive cheers from the home fans.
“Fulham have a fantastic defensive record, they’re unbeaten in ten games and have only conceded six away goals all season,” enthuses Mystic Massey, resulting in us immediately scoring.
Neill crosses and Pantsil, who comes from Africa and with us was better than Kaka, chests the ball straight into the path of Di Michele who neatly slips the ball home. The Italian then slices wide when he should have crossed and then turns to fire another sot into the side netting. He’s as erratic as ever, but is clearly buoyed by the absence of whinging Bellers.
Only inevitably one of our ex-players then equalises. Konchesky strikes a stunning 35-yard shot into the top corner and despite being a West Ham fan, understandably celebrates. It’s his first goal since the FA Cup Final. Should Green have beaten from so far out? Or was it just an unstoppable shot? Probably the latter.
“Al Fayed, he wants to be a Brit and QPR are shit!” sing the joyous Fulham fans.
At half time we remain confident of a win as Ilunga and Neill are playing well on the flanks and Fulham have only had one shot. And CQ is with Nigel, and she has a 100 per cent home victory record so far. Matt says that Lisa has read that UFO are reforming, which is enough to drive me back to the stands. Although his nugget about all the old dudes of Mott the Hoople getting back together is more intriguing.
Behrami and Collison are working tremendously hard in our midfield diamond and the game turns with an inspired performance from Carlton Cole. He takes the ball off Konchesky and runs into the area before being bought down by the skinhead left back. Mysteriously Konch is only booked and not sent off. Noble scores with a shot down the middle, having sent Schwarzer the wrong way.
The highly-rated Hangeland and co are panicking whenever Carlton goes near the ball now. Amazing what confidence can do. Coley swivels and sends a shot just wide of the post. “He’s worth £30 million at least,” is my view.
“Who needs Craig Bellamy?” chants the whole ground, Followed by “F*** off Craig Bellamy!”
Then Collison intercepts a loose ball in midfield, plays in Di Michele and the Italian’s subtle pass is prodded home by the on fire Cole, in front of the watching Capello. England England’s number nine? A month ago you’d have been certified for such thoughts.
We see the game through four minutes’ stoppage time. A West Ham win with no panic at the end? Unprecedented. We go above Fulham! We go above Hull City! We’re eighth!
We head for a drink in the Central with a new perspective on the Premiership. “When Bolton played Man United we used to want United to win,” Explains Matt. “But now we want Bolton to win so we can consolidate our bid for a Champions League place.”
Just hope Bellers was in the right frame of mind to watch it on Sky.
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