Saturday, 18th February 2006
Despite struggling at times against the sheer physical power of the home side Alan Pardew's team forced a creditable draw in today's fifth round FA Cup tie, played in front of an estimated 7,000 travelling fans whose sheer volume of noise gave the impression that it was a home game for long periods.
The Hammers went into the game playing new signing Dean Ashton as a lone striker, with Alan Pardew stretching five across the midfield in an attempt to nullify the threat of Okocha, Nakata and Nolan.
But Bolton started the stronger of the two teams and created the first chance of the game after seven minutes. Ricardo Gardner beat Lionel Scaloni on the right flank before delivering a cross that was comfortably dealt with by the Hammers defence.
Dean Ashton saw a 20 yard striker fly high and wide moments later; Bolton responded with a Nolan shot that was comfortably dealt with by Shaka Hislop.
The home side continued to press and Nakata forced a smart save from Hislop before Nolan narrowly missed giving the home side the lead on 27 minutes when he got ahead of Anton Ferdinand to scoop the ball inches over the bar.
The Hammers began to claw their way back into the game and Paul Konchesky recorded their first effort on goal for half an hour when a mazy run ended up with a shot being blocked by Jaidi.
That effort spurred the visitors on and despite failing to seriously threaten Bolton's goal in the remaning minutes they ended the half the stronger of the two teams.
Nakata recorded the first real effort of the second period on 48 minutes when his 20 yard effort whistled wide of the post. The Hammers responded quickly and a Paul Konchesky cross caused problems in the Bolton box before eventually being cleared.
But the home side pressed again and Nolan has two good chances either side of Bolton's best opportunity of the entire game, when Davis' shot from the corner of the six-yard box missed Shaka Hislop's far post by no more than a yard.
With the pressure beginning to mount, Alan Pardew decided to ring the changes on 61 minutes and a bold move saw Bobby Zamora replace Marlon Harewood, and the team switch to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation.
This seemed to pay dividends almost immediately when the Hammers created their best chance of the game with 65 minutes on the clock. Dean Ashton's cross - after some good work on the flank - evaded everyone in the box but was retrieved by Matthew Etherington whose return cross found Ashton at the far post. Unfortunately for the Hammers the £7m man could only find the side netting when a better-directed finish would surely have resulted in a goal.
As time began to run out Bolton again surged forward in search of what would surely have proved a decisive goal, and despite finding the net twice in the closing minutes both efforts were rightly ruled out (one for offside, the other for a foul on Shaka Hislop).
So it'll be a fourth meeting of the season next week (with the league game at the Reebok still to come) when the two teams return to the Boleyn for the replay. Although the Hammers will need to up their game for the return it promises to be another cracker under the lights at the Boleyn.
And, of course, we go into Monday's sixth round (commonly known as the quarter-final) draw - for the first time in five years.
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Coped comfortably with everything Bolton thew at him. A reassuring performance, especially so following the news of Carroll's injury. Most importantly - a third clean sheet in succession.
The least effective of his performancs for the Hammers so far. Beaten for space by Gardner as early as the seventh minute and a less forgiving referee might have interpreted his (albeit gentle) tug on Stelios' shirt another way.
Gained little profit from his forays on the flank although performed his defensive duties with some aplomb.
Vary few errors (bar the odd erratic pass) in a busy game. However he was fortunate not to have been punished for losing Kevin Davis for Bolton's best chance of the first half.
It seems a touch pointless compiling comments for Gabbidon as the word 'flawless' generally suffices. As it does again today.
Muscled out of the game by Bolton's big lads and definitely came off second best on a number of occasions. Still, we can allow the odd average performance after the season he's had so far.
Not the usual threat when bombing forward although some allowances should be given for the standard of the opposition.
Not at the races at all in a game in which one might think he would be desperate to impress.
A quiet first half, inspired after the break. Everything West Ham created came through or involved Etherington. Excellent performance.
A quiet game for our leading goalscorer who looked slightly miffed at being asked to play our wide.
His first full appearance without a goal, and Ashton looked slightly lost at being asked to lead the line on his own. Bar the one second half chance which he buried into the side netting he never really threatened.
(Replaced Harewood, 61) The Hammers certainly looked more of a threat when Zamora entered the fray - although that probably had more to do with Pardew's adventurous formation as opposed to Bobby's influence.
(Replaced Ashton, 75) Rarely involved for the 15 or so minutes he was on. Didn't look 100% despite having recovered fully from the annual Christmas injury.
(Replaced Benayoun, 81) Got stuck in, delivered a couple of useful passes and generally did what Dailly does for the last ten minutes of a game. Job done.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Shaka Hislop.
West Ham United
Shaka Hislop, Lionel Scaloni, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Yossi Benayoun, Matthew Etherington, Marlon Harewood, Dean Ashton.
Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Jaaskelainen, Ben Haim, Jaidi, O'Brien, Gardner, Speed, Giannakopoulos, Okocha, Nolan, Nakata, Davis.
Substitutes: Vaz Te (Giannakopoulos 70), Borgetti (Davis 85).
Subs not used: Walker, Hunt, Diagne-Faye.
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..