West Ham United 3 Fulham 1

Last updated : 18 January 2009 By Footymad Previewer
The happy Hammers fans left Upton Park chanting 'Who needs Craig Bellamy?' after Gianfranco Zola's side's straightforward derby victory.

Although former Hammer Paul Konchesky had wiped out David Di Michele's opener with a contender for Goal of the Season, Fulham were finally felled by Mark Noble's ice-cool penalty and top-scorer Carlton Cole's fifth goal in five games.

With want-away Bellamy reportedly returning home to Wales on Friday, instead of joining in a coaching session with his team-mates, the Hammers striker was nowhere to be seen at Upton Park.

That meant a recall for Di Michele as Zola made just one enforced change from the side that had drawn 2-2 at Newcastle United last Saturday.

With last weekend's match against Blackburn Rovers falling victim to the weather, Roy Hodgson made two changes to the team that knocked Sheffield Wednesday out of the FA Cup a fortnight ago, as John Paintsil and Simon Davies came in for Fredrik Stoor and Julian Gray.

With just seven minutes on the clock, ex-Hammer Paintsil was wishing that the turf on his old Upton Park stamping ground would open up and swallow him, when he recklessly chested Lucas Neill's cross straight into the path of the delighted Di Michele, who comfortably slotted his third goal of the campaign past the helplessly exposed Mark Schwarzer.

But midway through the half, there was better fortune for another West Ham United old boy.

This time, self-confessed Hammers fan Konchesky ran from halfway before simply letting fly with a 30-yard thunderbolt that flew beyond the reaches of Robert Green before almost taking the net off its hooks.

Just before the break, Paintsil was booked for tripping the escaping Herita Ilunga but, fortunately for the Ghan international, that was as far as the punishment went as Di Michele could only lash the free-kick into the side-netting from a tight angle to keep it all-square at the break.

Certainly, West Ham had only shown brief glimpses of inspiration during a below-par first half but they emerged for the restart looking far livelier as Noble tested Schwarzer with a low 15-yard effort and then Di Michele saw an effort ruled out by an offside flag.

On the hour, Zola's side regained the lead thanks to Noble's perfect penalty after Konchesky had lost possession to the breaking Cole before scything down the Hammers striker as he sprinted for goal.

Moments later, Cole chested down and volleyed just inches wide from the edge of the area, while in reply his old strike-partner Bobby Zamora sent two speculative shots into Row Z before being replaced by Erik Nevland to complete a miserable return to the Boleyn Ground for all three former Hammers.

With 14 minutes remaining, Jack Collison brilliantly played in the over-lapping Di Michele, who invited the in-form Cole to get in front of Aaron Hughes and prod home his ninth goal of the season from six yards and extinguish the Fulham flame.