West Ham United couldn’t quite achieve their second double this week, as they had to settle for a goalless draw against newly-promoted Fulham at Craven Cottage in Saturday’s evening kick-off.
Ryan Fredericks missed out on a start against his former club as David Moyes made one change to the team that beat Aston Villa at Villa Park five days ago with Jarrod Bowen being restored to the starting line-up and the former Fulham defender dropping back to the bench.
West Ham should have tested home goalkeeper Alphonse Areola in the opening two minutes when they were awarded a free-kick but unfortunately, Aaron Cresswell left was well wide of the target.
Declan Rice and Craig Dawson were in the way as both Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman tried to find a way through for Scott Parker’s side.
Lookman was next to try his luck minutes later but thankfully, he sent this effort wide.
Tomáš Souček also went close but the Czech only fired into the side netting after being set up by both Cresswell and Bowen.
Areola had to make a save from Rice but to be fair to the Frenchman, it was rather comfortable.
Although Łukasz Fabiański was the busier of the two stoppers, he wasn’t really troubled. On forty one minutes, the Pole did however make a save from Ivan Cavaleiro’s header.
When referee Mike Dean blew his whistle, Parker would have been content that the scores were still level but frustrated that his team were unable to capitalize on any of their chances.
Fulham were still the better side after the break, so much so that the Irons were given a huge let off on fifty three minutes as they wasted a great opportunity to go in front. Lookman and Loftus-Cheek combined well again as the Chelsea loanee was bearing down on goal but the shot lacked direction.
Three minutes later, Moyes made a double change as he introduced Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble in place of both Bowen and Saïd Benrahma.
The home side had dominated the match up to this point but the East Londoners could have edged ahead on sixty four minutes but Vladimír Coufal was unlucky only to hit the bar with his effort.
Michail Antonio was as energetic as ever but in his last three matches he was unable to find the net. The Hammers’ boss decided it was time to end his game, meaning Fredericks finally got the chance to feature against his former club.
Another point really wasn’t going to suit the hosts and they had a chance to try and change that outcome. Parker threw on Aleksandar Mitrović to take the place of Mario Lemina and the striker was straight into the action but he shot wide from the edge of the box while Lookman was also off target with a free-kick.
The reverse fixture back in November had late drama when Souček scored a late winner in stoppage time. Well, the drama in this encounter was again involving the Czech but this time it wasn’t as great a feeling for him. West Ham were awarded a freekick but as the wall was lining up, Mitrović went down after an accidental elbow.
Referee Dean initially didn’t see the incident but Lee Mason, who was based in the VAR booth back at Stockley Park, got involved and told him to check on the monitor. After a lengthy look, Dean then very harshly brandished a straight red card and the visitors were reduced to ten men.
Parker was perhaps more pleased with the result than Moyes but the Scotsman surely would have preferred three more points before their focus turned to their FA Cup fifth round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday.