Saturday, 11th March 2006
Alan Pardew's experimental team were on the wrong end of a 4-1 thumping in the first of their two meetings with Bolton this week.
A first half horrow show left the Hammers 3-0 adrift at the break before Pardew's men restored some pride with a much improved second half showing.
Pardew opted to rest several players ahead of next Wednesday's fifth round FA Cup replay and gave a first Premiership start to Elliott Ward, whilst moving Anton Ferdinand into an unfamiliar midfield berth.
West Ham were up against it from the start and it was no surprise when the Trotters took the lead just 12 minutes into the game. A Jay-Jay Okocha free-kick was headed against the post before Greek international Stelios pounced on the rebound with the Hammers rearguard motionless.
The lead was doubled on 33 minutes and had more than a touch of good fortune about it; Kevin Nolan, Barclay's Premiership Player of the Month for February struck a low drive that appeared to be going narrowly wide of Shaka Hislop's post until catching Stelios on it's path. The slightest of touches from the Greek striker was enough to divert the ball inside the post to make it 2-0.
But worse was yet to come for the Hammers, who conceded a third in the final minute of the half. Okocha's fierce drive was palmed away by Hislop but returned into the danger area by Ricardo Gardner. Veteran midfielder Gary Speed was first to react and made it 3-0 from close range.
Alan Pardew rang the changes at half-time replacing the disappointing Elliott Ward and Shaun Newton with Christian Dailly and Yossi Benayoun, and the Hammers looked a better proposition thereafter.
But all the Hammers had to show for their efforts was a late consolation from Teddy Sheringham who scored a tap in from three yards after Yossi Benayoun's stinging shot was palmed away by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
To add insult to inury Bolton added a fourth in the closing stages though Henrik Pedersen, who scored with a great strike from some 25 yards just two minutes after Sheringham had narrowed the deficit.
All in all it was a hugely disappointing afternoon for the Hammers, who slip to ninth in the Premiership table thanks to Wigan's 1-0 win at doomed Sunderland.
Alan Pardew - who later accepted that his tinkering with team selection was largely responsible for the defeat - must now lift his side for the replay next Wednesday.
Player Ratings by Peng Cheng
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Wasnít at fault for any of the goals and made a couple of good saves against Okocha towards the end of the first half when Bolton were dominating. Getting a rating of 7 when youíve just had 4 goals smacked past you lets you know he had a decent game. Some might question whether he should have punched in the build-up to Speed's goal but I thought it was the right choice and he did get some distance; rather lucky that it went straight to a Bolton player before Speed bicycle-kicked (for the first time that I can remember).
Didnít watch the first few games he played for us but today he was a complete liability. Bolton really seemed to target him today and Vaz Te and Gardener repeatedly showed how slow this guy is. Ok, so Vaz Te dived and got booked but on most occasions, he just beat Scaloni for pace. When thatís not happening, his getting caught out of position as happened several times and setting up Bolton. He throw went straight to Gardener before he lost a 50/50 ball with Vaz Te (the type of ball a defender should win) who squared it and Pedersen did the rest. Pardew! Play a youngster, Clive or even Dailly, this guy is a liability!
Really enjoyed his performance today. Got forward a few times without exposing his wing. Combined well with Etherington throughout the game. Did get turned inside out by Stelios towards the end of the first half but the Greek was on fire today. But note, it wasnít a testing day because Bolton focused on the opposite flank so heíll have harder days at the office (once we get a decent right-back).
In general play he looked solid and wasnít at fault for any of the goals. The question is whoís the blame for the fact that we looked completely inept at defending the Bolton set-pieces? Going into the game, we know that their strength is in their midfield and at set-pieces and we seem to be trying to cover their strengths as presumably thatís what the two defensive midfielders were for. But what about their set pieces? Even though Gabbidon is the senior player at the back, I donít think it's his responsibility? Whereís that guy they just named the Manager of the Month? But in all seriousness, it is a coaching and management issue.
Non-existent in the first half as a midfielder and hopefully that will be the end of that experiment. For me, that mistake lies with Pardew. Other than winning a few headers, really had no influence in the midfield. Honestly, he looked lost. I guess the thinking was that since Bolton are dangerous from midfield with Stelios, Nolan, Speed and Okocha, two defensive midfielders were needed. The plan didnít work. The Bolton midfielders were extremely dangerous and creative and Ferdinand seemed at a loss as to how to stop their flow. Played at centre-back in the second half without any notable mistakes.
Didnít mark properly for the first goal and completely lost track of his opponent. Still, I thought he was solid in general play and I donít think he was at fault for the two other goals while he was on. More promising than Collins in my books and despite the 3 goals when he was on, I want him playing more first time football for us. The only problem is fitting him into the squad.
Very quiet. Didnít do much and the game does seem to have passed him by recently. Got more involved in the second-half with a few timely tackles, a bit of hustle causing turnovers and a few attempts on goal. However, really didnít make much of an impact in stopping the rampaging Bolton midfield, especially in the last 15 minutes of the first-half. The fact the game passes him by is probably mainly due to the fact that we donít seem to play through the middle much anymore.
Ineffective. Tried to run at opponents but really doesnít have the pace or the skill. He usually is just on to close out games but this starting performance really shows that we need a genuine right winger. Blood a youngster!
Set up our only goal. For much of the game Bolton were very effective in denying him space or run or really do anything. I think Etherington was in bad form, this was the type of game where he might not have done anything. But was involved throughout the game and did provide an outlet when we werenít booting the ball long. Not his best.
Got his goal and didnít seem as off the pace as in some of his recent performances. Won a few headers when we were playing the long ball. Worked hard and a decent effort overall.
The service wasnít great and he did work hard, but was rather ineffective (and the Bolton defence had him under control). There already seems to be a certain chemistry between Harwood and Ashton, and Bobby - for me - is a fringe player.
(Replaced Newton, 45) Involved in Sheringhamís goal and also got one himself but was a little off pace (again, it was from an Etherington run and cross). Provided a few touches of class. What Iíd like to see is Yossi playing the role that Stelios plays so effectively for Bolton. Yossi is not a right-winger. We should play with genuine wingers and Yossi playing as a floating midfielder, providing an extra man down the flanks and causing trouble in the middle. Heís an intelligent player with the right skills and needs a more effective role than being a right winger who cuts in all the time.
(Replaced Ashton, 84) Didnít do anything noticeable. But Iíd still rather have him at right-back than Scaloni.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Paul Konchesky.
West Ham United
Shaka Hislop, Lionel Scaloni, Paul Konchesky, Danny Gabbidon, Anton Ferdinand, Elliott Ward, Hayden Mullins, Shaun Newton, Matthew Etherington, Teddy Sheringham, Bobby Zamora.
Goals: Teddy Sheringham 79 .
Booked: Lionel Scaloni 47 Teddy Sheringham 73 Paul Konchesky 83 Christian Dailly 85 Anton Ferdinand 88 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Ben Haim, Jaidi, Gardner, Nolan, Okocha, Speed, Giannakopoulos, Davies, Vaz Te.
Substitutes: Hunt (O'Brien 67), Pedersen (Giannakopoulos 75), Nakata (Okocha 84).
Subs not used: Walker, Borgetti.
Goals: Giannakopoulos (12, 33), Speed (45), Pedersen (81).
Booked: Vaz Te (87).
Sent Off: None sent off..