West Ham United v Fulham – as it happened

Andy Carroll didn't score on his debut, but he was the star as the Hammers brushed aside Fulham at the Boleyn Ground

Benjamin and Clover could only be with Boxer after working hours, and it was in the middle of the day when the van came to take him away. The animals were all at work weeding turnips under the supervision of a pig, when they were astonished to see Benjamin come galloping from the direction of the farm buildings, braying at the top of his voice. It was the first time that they had ever seen Benjamin excited — indeed, it was the first time that anyone had ever seen him gallop. 'Quick, quick!' he shouted. 'Come at once! They're taking Boxer away!' Without waiting for orders from the pig, the animals broke off work and raced back to the farm buildings. Sure enough, there in the yard was a large closed van, drawn by two horses, with lettering on its side and a sly-looking man in a low-crowned bowler hat sitting on the driver's seat. And Boxer's stall was empty.

The animals crowded round the van. 'Good-bye, Boxer!' they chorused, 'good-bye!'

'Fools! Fools!' shouted Benjamin, prancing round them and stamping the earth with his small hoofs. 'Fools! Do you not see what is written on the side of that van?'

That gave the animals pause, and there was a hush. Muriel began to spell out the words. But Benjamin pushed her aside and in the midst of a deadly silence he read:

' 'Alfred Simmonds, Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler, Willingdon. Dealer in Hides and Bone-Meal. Kennels Supplied.' Do you not understand what that means? They are taking Boxer to the knacker's!'

On Thursday evening, Liverpool Football Club sent the limited but willing, hard-working and loyal Andy Carroll away in the van. He didn't want to leave, and subsequent events at Anfield suggest Brendan Rodgers might now be having second thoughts about getting rid. But in the long run, his move to West Ham United could work out brilliantly for all parties. This could be the start of something special.

Carroll's style of play was never compatible with the blueprint for New Liverpool; he might, however, score plenty of goals at his new club, whose manager Sam Allardyce favours a more, eh, robust style. Forget the cheap jibes; there's a player inside Carroll. He's never going to be the next Lionel Messi, but this transfer deadline could have the pleasant effect of reinvigorating the most expensive English player in history.

But let's not forget Fulham have just brought in a major talent too, in Dimitar Berbatov. What news of him? He's currently halfway through Keep the Aspidistra Flying, which he's enjoying with an espresso and a cheroot. Oh, and he's eligible to play today, too.

Kick off: 12.45pm.

West Ham United throw Big Andy straight into the starting line-up: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Reid, Collins, O'Brien, Diame, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Vaz Te, Carroll.
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Cole, Maiga, Diarra, O'Neil, Hall.

Fulham name Dimitar Berbatov on the bench, where he can finish reading his novel: Schwarzer, Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Richardson, Rodallega, Petric.
Subs: Stockdale, Kelly, Baird, Kasami, Berbatov, Briggs, Kacaniklic.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Early-morning existential angst (brought to you, surprisingly, courtesy of Andy Carroll rather than Dimitar Berbatov): "Oh come on!" cries Alex Hanton. "You can't open a lighthearted MBM with the most harrowing moment of what's already a pretty upsetting book. This is like Match of the Day replacing its opening titles with that scene where Bambi's mum gets shot." I'd pay good money to see Gary Lineker quip his way out of that one. His ironic eyebrows would have to start pinging up and down like the flippers on a pinball table to deflect that hospital pass.

The teams are out! West Ham are in their famous claret and blue - with a lovely old-fashioned collar, not as nice as the 1964 FA Cup final shirt, but you can't have everything - while Fulham are also decked out in their trademark garb, a really fetching black pinstripe down the front of their white shirts. A lovely atmosphere of expectation at the Boleyn Ground, both sets of fans looking forward to seeing what their new charges can do.

And we're off! The home fans give a hearty rendition of Bubbles, and their lads set the ball rolling. The ball's lumped down the right wing, and immediately lost. Onwards and upwards.

51 seconds: GOAL!!! West Ham United 1-0 Fulham. Andy Carroll has taken just over 40 seconds to make his mark in east London. He wins a majestic header, the ball being lumped down the middle. He flicks it on to Vaz Te down the inside-right channel. Vaz Te cuts inside, and knocks the ball left to Nolan, who guides a brilliant first-time shot back across goal and into the right-hand corner of the net. Penny for Brendan Rodgers thoughts.

3 min: Some fantastic reaction shots after that goal. Sam Allardyce was, as you'd expect, delighted. Carroll and his old pal/Toon-team-mate/landlord/babysitter Nolan hug warmly, with huge smiles. Martin Jol grits his teeth. I think he might have just ground them down into the sort of fine powder you could sieve through a pair of tights.

5 min: Fulham respond through Rodallega, who has a weak shot. West Ham pelt down the other end, through Taylor down the left. His cross into the area is a dangerous one, right along the corridor of uncertainty, but there's nobody on hand to poke home.

7 min: Richardson has a flash at goal from a very long way out indeed. A daisycutter aimed for the bottom right, it's a decent effort, and one which the shaky Jaaskelainen can only parry, but Collins is the only man near the loose ball and clears up. "Not only is Berbatov rolling a fag," notes Simon McMahon, "he is washing down his plate of full English with three fingers of single malt. What a legend." He's an amazingly unflappable character. Someone's got to encourage him to write some short stories at least.

9 min: Carroll is making one hell of an instant impact. On the edge of the area, just to the left of goal, he cushions a header back to Diame, who pelts a super shot goalwards. It's straight at Schwarzer, though, and the keeper tips over. But only just. The corner comes to naught, but this is very promising indeed from Carroll, who is now worth £36m.

12 min: O'Brien, underlapping (I assume you can't overlap on the inside) down the left, gets near to the byline and cuts a pass back for Vaz Te, who hammers a low shot towards the bottom left. It's not too far away at all. West Ham are looking very, very impressive this morning, as exciting to watch now as they were appalling against Swansea this time last weekend.

14 min: Fulham are being restricted to long, overly ambitious shots on goal. Diarra's the man this time, but his effort is lame and left. "So you want to riff on harrowing scenes from fiction, yeah?" begins Ian Copestake. "Well, here's a taster that might be from the end of Junger's Perfect Storm, or might be a reflection on Chelsea's performance: 'For reasons that he still doesn't understand, Hazard didn't quit.He made a guess and swam. The entire port side of the cabin was welded steel and he knew if he picked that direction, he was finished.'" This riff has to stop now. Not because it isn't any good. It's just that I'm way out of my depth already, one email in.

16 min: Duff hares after a long ball down the inside-right channel, and is this close to guiding it across Jaaskelainen and into the bottom left. But misses the ball altogether. Small margins, eh.

17 min: The Carroll-Vaz Te-Nolan combination nearly unlocks Fulham again. Carroll wins another booming header, Vaz Te receives and flicks an instant pass right to Nolan, who very nearly executes a perfect floated chip over Schwarzer. The ball flies just over the crossbar. Carroll now worth £38m.

18 min: It's the Andy Carroll Show. On the edge of the D, he drops a shoulder and is so near from sashaying - sashaying - past Hangeland. But there are limits, and the defender stands firm. Then the big man races after a long diagonal ball, entering the box on the left. He's shoved in the back by Riether. That should be a penalty kick - it'd have certainly been a foul anywhere else on the pitch - but the referee isn't biting. Carroll is now a £40m player, which means Liverpool's crack team of negotiators might be able to get upwards of £3m for him next summer.

21 min: Petric sprays a long ball down the inside-left channel for Rodallega, who enters the box, albeit not in total control, spinning through 180 degrees as he does so. His back to goal, he's firmly shoved to the ground by a clanking clunk from Collins. Clumsy Collins. That's just rung a distant Commodore 64 bell. More at half time, you lucky people.

25 min: Fulham have been enjoying more possession than West Ham, though they've been doing little with it. This is a better period for them, as they try to draw the sting from West Ham, boring them rigid with a period of patient passing in the centre of the park. Eventually they break forward, and it's yet another shot from distance, this time a low fizzer from Sidwell which is well claimed by Jaaskelainen.

28 min: Fulham are pressing West Ham back now, without really threatening them. Duff curls one in from the right, but it's easily dealt with by Reid. Then another ball swung in from the same wing, Rodallega having worked his way out wide, but Jaaskelainen claims.

29 min: GOAL!!! West Ham United 2-0 Fulham. A corner for the Hammers down the right. The ball's swung in. With Fulham paying close attention to Andy Carroll, there's space for Reid, who ghosts towards the six-yard box and heads home. Sort of heads home. Well, the ball goes in the net, the ball rolling down the back of Reid's head and ski-jumping off the nape of his neck. Not the prettiest goal you'll ever see, like West Ham give a flying one. Carroll is making a lot of things happen around him.

32 min: Fulham were just beginning to work their way back into this match, and now look. On the touchline, a livid Martin Jol, having earlier ground his teeth into dust, is compressing his gums into house bricks.

34 min: Vaz Te skedaddles down the right, totally unchallenged. He slides the ball into Nolan, who tries his level best to kick the ball up into his own face. A half-chance spurned.

35 min: Carroll has the heat on about some minor clash in the penalty area. He's shoved in the back again by Riether, but this time it's a fair challenge. The referee gets that one spot on. "I hear you on Berba, Scott," begins jazz fan Steven Hughes. "I like to think of him undergoing his medical this week with fag still in mouth, only being taken out so that he can blow smoke rings into the ether. Also, when the doctor asked him to lift up his shirt, I picture it as one with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's face on it."

37 min: Fulham are doing the Passing It About thing again. And once more they're Going Absolutely Nowhere.

39 min: A period of play during which West Ham prove they can knock it around pointlessly in midfield as well as anyone else. Big Sam one-dimensional? Oh I don't think so!

41 min: GOAL!!! The Andy Carroll Experience 3-0 Fulham. From deep on the right, Collins clips a long free kick into the area. Under extreme pressure from - who else? - Carroll, Hangeland can only head out weakly to the edge of the area, where Taylor rushes in and skelps a confident finish into the bottom right. Schwarzer was rooted, no chance. This is a brilliant display by West Ham United, but by one player in particular, and he's not even on the scoresheet himself.

44 min: Fulham look totally stunned. Duff tries to make something happen down the right, but he's turned back upfield. It's just not happening for them. "I reckon Big Sam is going to have an extra sugar lump for Andy at half time," quips Alan Brown. Cheap, but affectionate. Anyway, Carroll is now officially a thoroughbred. His current value is £45m, which Liverpool should be able to translate into £6m if they get their best men on it.

HALF TIME: West Ham United 3-0 Fulham. A couple of corners from Duff come to nothing for Fulham, who haven't been abject; they've just been Carrolled. The new hero of Upton Park goes off to warm applause. Penny for Brendan Rodgers' thoughts? You'd probably pay at least a quid now, wouldn't you?

HALF-TIME RETRO GAMING: A new feature very tenuously influenced by CLUMSY James COLlINs' challenge on Hugo Rodallega (21 mins).

To be honest, I'd usually get fed up after failing to find the crash helmet. But as a boring old bastard I'm duty bound to say computer games were better back in the day, which they probably weren't. Still, what difference does it make?

And we're off again! Rather unsurprisingly, existentialism's Dimitar Berbatov comes on for the almost invisible Petric. Fulham get the ball rolling for the second half. "Brendan Rodgers should be applauded for a decision which clearly benefits the player even as it leaves LFC short of a plan B," argues Ian Copestake. "The Yanks however have not backed the manager by denying him a measly 4 million. Pathetic." I agree. Carroll was never going to shine at Liverpool, certainly not under Rodgers, like he's doing here today. An unfairly derided figure, Carroll should put a fair whack of the value back on his price tag if he has a good season, especially if he keeps playing like he's doing today. So everyone wins. Liverpool's lack of strikers for this season is another issue altogether. Some real mismanagement during their negotiations yesterday - not coughing the extra few quid for Clint Dempsey was preposterously stubborn - but the club is reaping what it sowed last year, overspending wildly on goods from the second shelf. There's a lot of blame to go round, from the current owners to Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli, and nobody (apart from poor Rodgers) comes out of it particularly well.

46 min: West Ham start the half on the good foot, Vaz Te having a dig from a position on the right. It's high and not particularly handsome.

49 min: This half hasn't really started yet. West Ham are under no obligation to do a damn thing.

50 min: A bit of space for Berbatov down the inside-left channel. He's flagged offside as he breaks into the box, a tight and, by the looks of it, unfair decision. Still, whether it would have made any difference if play was left to develop is a moot point, as instead of looking for goal he opts to drag a fairly tame cross through the area, no team-mates anywhere near his pass. "Berbatov is the football equivalent of James Bond," opines Simon McMahon. "In the sense that he is effortlessly cool and appreciates the finer things in life, not because he is a spy and has killed people or anything. Someone men would like to be, and women would like to be with, if you will." And men would like to be with, and women would like to be. We're a broad church here at the Guardian.

52 min: A free kick for West Ham, just outside the area, to the right of goal. Taylor curls a magnificent shot through a gap in the wall created by the lurking Collins, and very nearly foxes Schwarzer. But the keeper gets a hand to the ball.

53 min: And now a corner for West Ham, swung in from the right. At the far post, The Big Man wins a header - Hangeland, attempting to mark him, is all over the shop and panicking quite openly - but Vaz Te can't convert the dropping ball, executing a fresh-air swipe instead. Some other clumsy Hammer has shoved someone over, in any case, and the ref blows up for a free kick.

57 min: A pretty period of passing by Fulham, back and forth across the West Ham area, but the home side hold firm. Richardson nearly prises open some space down the middle to release Berbatov. Rodallega looks to curl one into the right-hand corner. Riise teases a cross in from the left. But all openings are shut off pretty quickly. Both sides can be satisfied with this, in their own way, but Fulham will be the only ones frustrated.

60 min: What this game needs is another striker deemed surplus to requirements by Liverpool! Here's Alexander Kačaniklić, formerly of the Anfield youth set-up, taking the place of Richardson, whose debut has been a bit of a non-event, if we're being harsh.

62 min: Corner for West Ham down the left, from which Carroll rugby tackles Diarra. He has the brazen cheek to question what he's done wrong, the mark of a confident player indeed. "Today's game is a perfect example of why it was right for Liverpool to off-load Carroll," suggests Nick Smith. "He's an incredibly effective target man who will win everything in the air all day long. That gets you a top eight finish. To improve on that you need a subtlety in play that you don't get from having himn in the team and would have to disrupt your set-up to use him as an impact sub. He doesn't suit Rodgers' style so protecting his value and letting him play so he can develop is best all round."

64 min: Fulham with more possession, but still no sharp edge up front. "Berbatov's not just rolling any old fag, you know, he's using a stylish little rolling machine!" notes Matthew JS. "No nicotine-stained fingers for our Dimitar! I bet he uses those coloured, flavoured Rizla papers you get on the Continent, too, while the rolling machine probably folds up to look like a snazzy platinum-nibbed pen that he can stash inside his jacket pocket. And you just know he'll roll himself ten perfect little cigarillos and place them inside an embossed metal case, which he'll nonchalantly flip open when a young, female member of a minor European royal house strolls past. Surely the call-up for a Davidoff advert can't be far off?" I gave up smoking a few years ago, and now I really want a fag. Thanks!

66 min: I really do want that cigarette!

67 min: On the edge of the area, Berbatov brings a high ball down with a yawn, then flicks it back to Rodallega, whose goalbound hoof is chased down by Collins. "Liverpool have been playing the transfer market poorly for a long time so I can't believe that anyone is surprised that they screwed-up again," writes David Wall. "Even back in the Benitez era, instead of being prepared to pay a little extra to get the genuine quality required to be competitive they regularly paid middling prices (or took free agents so probably had to pay them higher wages) for lots of middling players (or worse, some real dross). Think of Jovanovic, Babel, el-Zhar, Ngog, etc, etc. It's like filling your wardrobe with lots of cheap rags then moaning about being unable to afford some smart threads and using your poverty as an excuse for looking crap. I suppose they tried a different tactic spending big on Carroll, Henderson, and Downing, but after years developing bad taste you can't expect to be able to recognise quality when you see it."

68 min: A double change for West Ham. First Collins is replaced by Tomkins. Then Carroll goes up for a header with Hangeland, only to land awkwardly. He doesn't look totally jiggered or anything, but he's holding his thigh, and limps off to be replaced by Cole. He receives a thunderous round of applause for his troubles as he departs; he's been absolutely magnificent today.

70 min: After some good work by Berbatov, a corner to Fulham down the left. From which a scramble develops. The ball falls to Sidwell, to the left of goal. He sidefoots past Jaaskelainen from a tight-ish angle, but there are several men on the line, and one of these dudes clears the ball. It's just not going to be Fulham's day.

73 min: More of the Fulham passing, to the usual ends. Berbatov and Kacaniklic exchange a couple of neat reverse balls down the left, but there's nobody in the middle to get onto the eventual pass inside.

74 min: A Rodallega shot flies straight down Jaaskelainen's throat. "So are we all just going to keep talking about Berbatov's cigarette-rolling (or possible texting?) and ignore the questionable earring choices of that bloke sitting behind him talking to young David Hasselhoff?" wonders Alex Hanton. You mean you've been able to snap your eyes from Dimitar's gaze? Oh Alex! How could you summon such energy?

78 min: Diame has some sort of leg knack, or maybe it's his foot, writes Dr Murray, and is replaced by young Robert Hall.

80 min: This game is petering out. Even the happy Hammers support can hardly raise a quaver of song. "I like the way the MBM is developing a descriptive style based on the complete absence of any need to refer to players' names," writes Ian Copesake (aka Always There Man). "The Big Lad, etc is clearly recognisable, but am sure some Homeric epithets like the swift footed one, or that clumsy oaf (or the heel destroyer for Charlie Adam), would work as well." I did once try to popularise Galoot as a more snappy monicker for Zlatan Ibrahimović, but it never took. I tried. Hell, I tried.

81 min: Cole looks to bustle clear down the middle, but no Big Man he, and Schwarzer is out quickly to hack clear. "Carrying on the theme of Liverpool Irrationalty (which was planted by Graeme Souness, watered carefully by Gerard Houllier, and blossomed into one healthy self-destroying phenomenon under the tender care of 'Rafa' Benitez and Tweedle Dum/Tweedle Dee so that it even consumed Kenny Dalglish), what bright light thought it best to send Carroll out on loan while retaining Downing and Henderson?" wonders Lou Roper. "Surely their combined wage packets exceed Carroll before we even consider footballing reasons? Oh, sorry, Downing is now a left-back, apparently."

84 min: Berbatov nearly opens up West Ham with a can-opener twist of his foot, but Rodallega is beaten to the through ball by Tomkins, who prods out for a corner. From which West Ham sweep upfield, first through Vaz Te, and then onto Hall down the inside-left. For a second it looks like a dream introduction for Hall, but he can't get his shot away. "While I heartily agree with David Wall that Liverpool's transfer policy has been 'like filling your wardrobe with lots of cheap rags,' what are we going to do now that we've actually got rid of the wardrobe?" quips Always There Man.

86 min: Everyone just wants to go home now.

88 min: Kacaniklic opens his body in an attempt to guide a shot into the top right, but the effort wafts lazily into Jaaskelainen's arms. Fulham have had no response whatsoever to West Ham's opening salvo; they've been as awful as the home side have been impressive. This second half's been a total non-event, though.

90 min: Duff gets a yard down the right, and hammers a shot goalwards. Jaaskelainen, who has had the square root of bugger all to do, palms round for a corner. That's the hottest his gloves will have felt all afternoon. And then, like London buses, sort of, more glove heat! From the set piece, Rodallega takes a shot, and the keeper is forced to palm a close-range effort onto the right-hand post! "Re: 84mins, are Trinny and Susannah still available?" wonders David Wall. "Their advice couldn't be any worse than Damien Comolli's."

FULL TIME: West Ham United 3-0 Fulham The referee brings an end to a worthless 45 minutes of football, though the first 45 were golden for the Hammers. The home side were fantastic, and Andy Carroll immense, as they record their second win of the season and leap, for a couple of hours at least, to fourth place in the nascent Premier League table. Fulham's new signings need a wee bit more time to get to know each other, I would suggest. Finally, an apology to Hammers fans for banging on about Liverpool so much, on an afternoon that's all about you, but then this is what happens when you make off with their £35m striker and then he does that.

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