|An archive of Cockney Hammer's West Ham-related daily news digests.
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Bristol City 1 West Ham 1
And the West Ham boss admits he will have no ex-Skuse if he fails.
Cole Skuse’s equaliser left the Londoners five points behind second-placed Southampton with two games left.
Boss Big Sam said: “It’s difficult for us now. And we’ve only got ourselves to blame.
“We had so many chances. We’ve got to take it on the chin.
“The nerve-ends were jangling and there was no margin for error.
“Maybe our keeper should have done better for their equaliser.
“But he’s saved us plenty of times this season and anyway, we shouldn’t have needed to worry because of our dominance in the game.”
West Ham took a 25th-minute lead when unmarked James Tomkins headed in Mark Noble’s free-kick.
But midfielder Skuse latched on to a loose ball and beat Rob Green with a long-range blast four minutes later.
The Robins are five points clear of danger with two matches to play.
City boss Derek McInnes said: “We’re nearly there but there’s no back-slapping until we get Saturday’s game against Barnsley out of the way.”
Bristol City 1-1 West Ham: Green gaffe spells play-offs for Hammers
David James watched Robert Green drop another clanger - and this time the error all but condemned West Ham to the playoffs.
James was also on the bench at Rustenberg at the 2010 World Cup, when a Green fumble allowed Clint Dempsey to equalise for the Americans against England.
Here at Ashton Gate, his West Ham side looked set for a 13th away win of the season when James Tomkins headed home a Mark Noble free-kick after 25 minutes.
But the lead lasted only four minutes when Green mis-judged a 25-yard dipping shot from Cole Skuse and could only push the ball into the roof of the net.
West Ham are now five points behind second-placed Southampton with two games to go - and cannot call upon City sub James for their last two matches against Leicester and Hull.
Derek McInnes' side extended their unbeaten run to six games and keep them five points clear of the relegation zone before games against Barnsley and Burnley.
James Tomkins salutes fans after opening scoring for the Hammers
BRISTOL CITY 1 WEST HAM 1: SAM FORGIVES GREEN'S BOOB
SAM ALLARDYCE refused to blame Robert Green for the blunder that means West Ham will almost certainly have to rely on the play-offs to get back to the Premier League.
The England goalkeeper made a mess of dealing with a Cole Skuse shot from nearly 30 yards that skipped twice and shot over his dive.
And for Hammers it was a bouncing bomb from which they never recovered as City held on for a point that edged them closer to survival at the opposite end of the table.
“Probably Robert could have done better,” admitted Allardyce.
“But the rest of the players should have got us back into the situation to win the game and it would not have mattered.
“There was plenty of time. Robert has won us enough games with the saves he has made.
“Maybe the nerve-ends are jangling because it is so important to us. This game is full of results that go against expectations at this time of the season for that reason.”
If a collective loss of nerve really is to blame for the Hammers, who were certainties a few months ago for the automatic places, the fact they now probably need to win the play-offs doesn’t augur well.
If his players can’t handle the pressure of having to win against relegation-threatened Bristol City, it puts a huge question mark over whether they can deal with the drama of the end-of-season knockouts.
Green’s blunder undid all the good work from a solid opening spell in which James Tomkins had given the Hammers a deserved lead after 25 minutes.
Left unmarked at the back post to meet Mark Noble’s free-kick, the young defender headed firmly back across to leave City keeper Dean Gerken stranded.
But all that was undone within five minutes as Skuse, who hadn’t scored a league goal in 33 games this season, took an optimistic swing from nearly 30 yards out.
Stopper Green was completely deceived by the bounce of the ball before it sailed beyond his outstretched hand and into the net.
Allardyce told his players he wanted a positive reaction at half-time and nearly got his wish, Henri Lansbury hitting a shot that skimmed the bar early in the second half.
But by the end City were well worth a draw which means a win over Barnsley on Saturday will guarantee them Championship football next season.
Robins boss Derek McInnes, who set his team out to limit the space West Ham had to play in, said: “I was really disappointed with our start and it took us going behind to get some vigour and energy in our game.
“But after Cole’s goal the players started to believe and did better. It’s six unbeaten and we need this run to get out of trouble.
“We are nearly there but nearly is a big, big word. It is important we prepare now to finish the job off.”
West Ham also have a job to finish – if they have the nerve to do it.
Hit back: Bristol City's Cole Skuse celebrates his equaliser
Bristol City 1 West Ham 1: Green gaffe costs nervy Hammers
Sam Allardyce blamed a collective loss of nerve for the result that almost certainly means the play-offs will be the only route back to the Barclay Premier League for West Ham this season.
And that hardly augurs well — because if his players cannot handle the pressure of having to win against relegation- threatened Bristol City it puts a huge question mark over whether they can deal with the drama of the end-of- season knock-out contest that is worth £80million or more.
Robert Green’s first-half blunder did the damage. The England squad goalkeeper was deceived by an awkward bounce when City midfielder Cole Skuse tried a shot from nearly 30 yards.
Bristol City 1 West Ham United 1: match report
West Ham’s hopes of automatic promotion suffered a significant blow at Ashton Gate as Bristol City kept alive their hopes of survival with a valuable point.
Having taken the lead through a James Tomkins header, the visitors were pegged back before half-time by a first goal of the season from Cole Skuse.
With two games remaining, the Hammers are now five points adrift of second place Southampton, who defeated Peterborough 3-1 last night, and also have a worse goal difference.
At the opposite end, the Robins need two points from their remaining games to secure Championship football for another season.
On the back of their best win since January 1998, West Ham might have been ahead inside 30 seconds. Nicky Maynard, who moved to Upton Park from Bristol City for £1.65 million in the January window, manoeuvred himself into a scoring position before Liam Fontaine arrived in the nick of time to make a crucial block.
City’s goal was under siege for much of the opening quarter with Ricardo Vaz Te and Maynard both missing the target after Dean Gerken had done particularly well to smother a shot from Matthew Taylor.
City, without the suspended Brett Pitman, offered precious little going forward with Jonathan Stead unable to make headway against Tomkins, who popped up at the other end, after 25 minutes, to break the deadlock.
Mark Noble whipped in a decent free-kick from the left and Tomkins, totally unmarked at the far post, had the simple task of heading past Gerken. Four minutes later, from virtually their first attack of the game, City were level.
Skuse, who had not scored in 33 league games this season, beat Robert Green with a 25-yard strike that skipped off the greasy surface and into the former England goalkeeper’s top corner.
Winston Reid’s scuffed effort from barely three yards, a minute before the interval, was somehow kept out by Gerken, who then beat away Henri Lansbury’s firm strike 15 minutes into the second half. With that, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce decided to gamble by sending on John Carew for left-back Danny Collins.
For all their pressure, West Ham rarely came close to retaking the lead. Carew tricked and teased Fontaine before firing straight at Gerken and the same player headed over from Noble’s free-kick 17 minutes from time.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Gerken; Foster, Amougou, Fontaine, McGivern; Skuse, Cissé (Adomah 69), Pearson, Bolasie (Woolford 69); Stead (Carey 87), Wood. Subs: James (g), Kilkenny. Booked: Skuse, Amougou, McGivern, Stead. Goal: Skuse 29.
West Ham United (4-4-2) Green; Demel (Faubert 73), Tomkins, Reid, Collins (Carew 62); Lansbury, Noble, Nolan, Taylor; Vaz Te, Maynard (Collison 73). Subs: Henderson (g), Diop. Booked: Reid, Collins. Goal: Tomkins 25.
Referee: C Pawson (South Yorkshire). Att: 16,669
Green's error dents West Ham hopes
Bristol City 1 West Ham United 1
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Though the second automatic promotion place remains a mathematic possibility, West Ham's mental preparations for the play-offs will begin after battling Bristol City held Sam Allardyce's side to a draw that went some way to securing their own Championship status.
"We didn't find the quality of finish," said Allardyce. "We always looked like the dominant force so to finish 1-1 was very disappointing. Maybe the nerve ends are jangling because it is so important to us."
West Ham pressured City from the off, but it was not until the 25th minute when a clear chance was created for James Tomkins' goal, the centre-half scoring with a far-post header from Mark Noble's free-kick.
The home side's equaliser, however, was almost instantaneous. Cole Skuse shot on the half volley from 25 yards and while Robert Green dived well and early, he somehow let the shot fly straight through his hands and into the net.
In the second-half both Henri Lansbury and substitute John Carew went close but the reality was West Ham never truly looked like scoring, especially with City's attempts to contain.
Bristol City (4-5-1):Gerken; Foster, Amougou, Fontaine, McGivern; Bolasie (Woolford, 69), Skuse, Cissé (Adomah, 69), Pearson, Wood; Stead (Carey, 88). Substitutes not used James, Kilkenny.
West Ham United (4-5-1): Green; Demel (Faubert, 74), Tomkins, Reid, Collins (Carew, 63); Lansbury, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Vaz Te; Maynard (Collison, 74). Substitutes not used Henderson, Diop.
Referee C Pawson (South Yorkshire).
bristol evening post
Skuse strikes to help City take a massive step closer to safety
BATTLING Bristol City took another huge step towards securing their npower Championship status by holding promotion hopefuls West Ham United at Ashton Gate.
And they had to do it the hard way, coming from behind against the team with the best away record in the English second tier.
James Tomkins headed the Hammers in front after 26 minutes, only for the Robins to hit back and level matters through Cole Skuse, who slammed home his first goal of the season four minutes later.
And even better followed for City, who are now unbeaten in six games, when news came through that Coventry had lost 1-0 at home to Millwall.
Third-from-bottom and in real danger of slipping into League One, the Sky Blues are now five points behind City, who will guarantee safety if they beat Barnsley at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
The result means West Ham and their manager, Sam Allardyce, are now almost certain to face trial by play-off following Southampton's handsome victory at Peterborough United.
It proved to be a night to forget for Nicky Maynard, the former City striker who was returning to Ashton Gate for the first time since his £1.65 million move to Upton Park in January.
Effectively shackled by City centre-backs Andre Amougou and Liam Fontaine, the 25-year-old had a quiet game and was substituted 16 minutes from time.
Rather predictably given the circumstances of his departure in January, Maynard was roundly booed by City fans whenever he touched the ball.
But the catcalls and jeers served only to make the Cheshire-born striker more determined and he demonstrated his trademark pace to show Andre Amougou a clean pair of heels in the very first minute.
When next he threatened to leave the Cameroon international trailing in his wake, Maynard was brought crashing to the ground by Amougou on the left side of the penalty area.
Mark Noble floated the ensuing free-kick towards the far post where Tomkins, left completely unmarked, peeled off to steer a free header back across goal and past Dean Gerken to give the Hammers a deserved lead.
Somewhat timid and at sixes and sevens when out of possession, City urgently required some encouragement. Fortunately for the home side, it materialised just four minutes later.
Without a goal in 33 appearances previously this season, Skuse did not hesitate to pull the trigger when the ball sat up invitingly for him 25 yards out. Robert Green appeared to have the shot covered, only for the ball to bounce and deceive him as it flew over his outstretched arms and into the net. Although back on terms, City continued to create problems for themselves and further hesitancy on the edge of the penalty area enabled Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan to send in a shot which required Amougou to clear off the line.
A draw was of no use to West Ham, who trailed second-placed Southampton by three points prior to kick-off, and Henri Lansbury took matters into his own hands early in the second half, trying his luck from range with a shot that beat Gerken and clipped the top of the crossbar.
City were struggling to contain West Ham at set pieces and opportunity again came knocking for Lansbury when the home side failed to deal with another Noble free-kick. The former Arsenal man found himself with time and space beyond the back post to angle in a fierce shot that required the increasingly busy Gerken to save smartly.
Seeing that his side was being pushed ever deeper, Robins boss Derek McInnes elected to withdraw Kalifa Cisse and Yannick Bolasie, send on Albert Adomah and Martyn Woolford and switch to a 4-4-2 formation in the hope of keeping the ball further up-field.
City were instantly resurgent and Chris Wood came close to putting them in front with a low shot that had Green scrambling across his goal.
West Ham thought they had won the game seven minutes from the end when substitute John Carew met a Nolan centre with a powerful header that was well held by Gerken, much to the relief of home fans.
Bristol City 1 West Ham 1
West Ham United must surely now do it the hard way if they are to make it back to the promised land of the Premier League at the first attempt following this disappointing draw at rain-lashed Ashton Gate.
While the mathematicians cannot put their calculators away just yet, with the Hammers trailing second-placed Southampton by five points with just two games to play, Sam Allardyce’s side will almost certainly have to endure a trio of nail-biting play-off matches if they are to return to the top flight.
It had looked like West Ham were going to keep up the pressure on the Saints, when James Tomkins headed the Hammers ahead on 26 minutes with his fourth goal of the season but Cole Skuse levelled on the half-hour mark to break the hopeful hearts of the 1,866 travelling fans.
Having seen his side record their best win since January 1998 just three days earlier, Allardyce made two enforced changes from the team that had hit Brighton & Hove Albion for six on Saturday, as Danny Collins and City old boy Nicky Maynard came in for Gary O’Neil (groin) and Carlton Cole (knee).
Looking to notch a record breaking 13th away-day win, the Hammers spent the opening period in the City half, where the marauding Maynard ignored the hostile reception that awaited his return to the club he left in January by unleashing an early shot that was charged down, while Tomkins’ downward header was smothered by Dean Gerken, too.
Matthew Taylor and Ricardo Vaz Te also sent low shots skidding across the greasy Ashton Gate grass and wide but with the Robins rocking, a West Ham opener looked inevitable.
Sure enough, on 26 minutes, yet another foul on the much-maligned Maynard saw Mark Noble deliver an inch-perfect left-wing free-kick onto the head of Tomkins, who expertly nodded home from 10 yards to give the Hammers a richly-deserved lead.
A 2-2 draw at Birmingham City on Saturday had left the Robins perched precariously in 21st spot, just four points clear of the drop-zone and, after sharing the spoils at St Andrew’s, Derek McInnes also made a couple of changes as Yannick Bolasie and Ryan McGivern came in for substitutes Martyn Woolford and Louis Carey.
Apart from seeing the speculating Skuse scuff a low long-ranger well wide to show just why he had not scored in his previous 35 starts this season, the trailing hosts had offered little in attack.
But on the half-hour mark, Skuse again tried his luck from distance anthis time his 25-yarder bounced in front of the groping Green, who could squirm in horror as the ball squelched through his clutches and inside the right-hand post.
With Southampton leading at Peterborough, the midfielder’s equaliser was a huge blow Big Sam’s side, who only really had one worthwhile chance to get their noses in front before the interval but Gerken bravely dived into Winston Reid’s studs after skipper Kevin Nolan drilled a low shot into the six-yard box.
Just after the restart, Reid was in the thick of things again, when he was booked for baulking Bolasie as he attempted to break free and, shortly afterwards Vaz Te invited the supporting Henri Lansbury to clip the bar with a rising 20-yarder.
Then as the hour-mark approached, Noble caused mayhem in the six-yard box with another tricky free-kick but to the anguish of the visiting fans in the rain-drenched crowd of 16,669, none of the claret and blue shirts could turn the ball home.
And after Collins became the third of six scrappy second half bookings for fouling Bolasie, Lansbury unleashed a stinging, angled volley, which Gerken grappled aside.
With the clock ticking, Allardyce upped the stakes by replacing Collins with John Carew as Taylor reversed into the left back berth and the Norwegian soon found himself in the City box, but his angled shot lacked power and, seconds later, he just failed to connect with a cross before then heading inches over.
Jack Collison and Julien Faubert then came on for the dejected Maynard and Guy Demel but Hammers just could not find the winner as Gerken denied Tomkins in the dying minutes, while another low cross agonisingly eluded the stretching Carew to leave the Big Sam’s simply side needing an unlikely miracle if they are to avoid those play-offs
Robins: Gerken, Foster, McGivern, Amougou, Fontaine, Cisse (Adomah 69), Wood, Skuse, Pearson, Bolasie (Woolford 69), Stead (Carey 88). Unused subs: James, Kilkenny.[/color]
Hammers: Green, Demel (Faubert 74), Collins (Carew 63), Tomkins, Reid, Vaz Te, Taylor, Lansbury, Nolan, Noble, Maynard (Collison 74). Unused Subs: Henderson, Diop.
Bookings: Reid (49), Skuse (56), Collins (57), Amougou (65), McGivern (73), Stead (81)
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has made discrete enquiries about Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, 22, who has scored seven goals for Swansea since joining on loan from Hoffenheim in January.
Manchester City are chasing Le Havre's French teenager Jules Ntcham, 16, who has been compared to Marcel Desailly. Inter Milan, Juventus and Arsenal are also interested.
West Brom want £3m for striker Simon Cox, 24, who is wanted by both Ipswich and Cardiff.
Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye has told Lille's Belgian forward Eden Hazard, 21, to choose Arsenal over Tottenham.
Cesc Fabregas has increased the pressure ahead of Barcelona's meeting with Chelsea by accusing Roberto di Matteo's side of playing "long ball football".
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 20, will accept the advice of Arsene Wenger and turn down the chance to play in the Olympics in order to be fit for the start of the new season.
Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi has hit back at claims from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that he wasted time during the Latics' 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.
Blackburn defender Gael Givet has angrily denied Steve Kean's claims that he refused to play in the 3-0 defeat at Swansea.
Hayes midfielder Harry Agombar has been handed a trial by Partizan Belgrade. The 19-year-old, who plays in Ryman League Division One North, will spend a week in Serbia with Partizan, managed by ex-West Ham boss Avram Grant.
A MIDFIELDER with non-league Grays Athletic has been handed a trial with Partizan Belgrade.
Harry Agombar, 19, who plays in Ryman League Division One North, flew to Serbia yesterday.
He will spend a week in Serbia with Partizan, now managed by ex-West Ham boss Avram Grant.
Agombar said: “It’s a massive opportunity, and I don’t think anyone would turn it down.
"I’ve had to make the decision to take the chance whilst it’s there, as it’s something I’ve been working hard for.
“I’ll always love Grays and I don’t think it could have come at a worse time.
“But I should be back before the end of the season, and I’ll give it my all.”
MIKEL ARTETA is battling to save his season despite scans revealing his ankle is not broken.
Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder was injured in the defeat to Wigan on Monday.
WAYNE HENNESSEY may not play for Wolves again after a knee injury ruled him out for at least three months.
The Wales keeper is a summer target for several top-flight clubs. But Wolves boss Terry Connor said: “We will fight to keep our best players.”
JOSH WRIGHT is set to snub offers from other Championship clubs to stay at Millwall.
The midfielder, 22, will hold talks about a three-year contract next week.
Ipswich and Leeds are also interested.
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Thanks to Avram Grant I had reason to be cheerful during last few weeks: while West Ham dropped point after point Red Star eliminated Partizan in Serbian Cup semi final, winning 2:0 both at home and away. That's hilarious because we we won maybe one or two derby games during last couple of years. But Avram is here now to save us from further embarrassment, both by loosing games and trialing players from 8th tier leagues. Guy is redeeming himself minute by minute, at least in my eyes.
Cheers CH, as always.
Good to hear Sam acknowledging Greeno's performances away from last night because as much as he really should have done better last night, he has saved us a fair number of points this season and owes us nothing in my book.
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Aide idamo Cvrena Zvezda. Xpictoc Vockpece!
Like CRS said I'm glad that Big Sam has acknowledged Greens performances all season long and glad he's not getting on his back about it. Good example of good man management there, although it is just talking the truth.
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