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Premier League
Saturday, 21st November 2009

Hull City 3
West Ham United 3

by Staff Writer


Gianfranco Zola's West Ham United grabbed what could prove to be a vital point in a thrilling encounter at the KC Stadium this afternoon - but should have taken all three.

West Ham - who had found themselves in the driving seat after early goals from Guillermo Franco and Jack Collison - threw away a two goal lead for the second successive away fixture before going on to concede a third - and all before half time.

Hull - hugely assisted by the unsurprisingly appalling Mark Clattenburg - turned the game around with three goals in 19 minutes to lead 3-2 at the break before Manuel Da Costa saved United's blushes with a second half equaliser, coming after the home side had been reduced to ten men.

The Hammers took the lead in a quite extraordinary opening 45 minutes when Mexican international Franco ghosted in to nod home a Junior Stanislas corner after just five minutes. That lead was doubled on 11 minutes when goalscorer turned provider; Franco delivering a delightful flighted cross which Collison met with a looping header.

A quite astonishing comeback - from a side that have won just five times in 2009 - began on 27 minutes when Hull were awarded a decidedly soft free kick to the left of United's penalty box. Former Hammer Jimmy Bullard's delivery was deflected first off Scott Parker then the unfortunate Carlton Cole, whose header leaft Rob Green with no chance as it looped into the top corner.

The Tigers made it 2-2 in the final minute of normal time when Junior Stanislas gave away an unnecessary free kick, this time to the right of West Ham's goal. The free kick split Danny Gabbidon and Da Costa allowing Kamil Zayatte to steal in and stab home.

To cap what had already been a disastrous period for West Ham, referee Mark Clattenburg somehow managed to exceed himself with a minute of first half injury time played when he awarded one of the weakest penalties you are ever likely to see against Julien Faubert. Presumably the Frenchman was penalised for leaning on Craig Fagan; regardless, Bullard slammed home the resulting spot kick to put the home side ahead at the break.

The second half began quietly but burst into life on 54 minutes when Hull were reduced to ten men. Scott Parker's dash through the middle was halted by a despairing lunge from last-man Bernard Mendy and referee Clattenburg finally got something right by issuing the errant defender his marching orders.

The dismissal saw a sea-change in the game as Hull, who had started the stronger of the two sides following the restart were forced into more defensive duties as a result of the numerical disadvantage. Unlike in the games against Fulham or Sunderland, the Hammers finally made an advantage count when they pulled level through Da Costa on 69 minutes; the centre-half slamming a loose ball from a corner into the back of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

Hopes were high at that point that West Ham would push on and grab the three points they should have secured long before Da Costa's first goal for the club. But just as in those aforementioned games against 10 men, if any side was going to grab a winner it wasn't going to be West Ham.

Phil Brown, who might just not be Out! after all following today's battling performance made bold substitutions, introducing two attacking players. Zola's options were once again limited by the quite-simply-not-good-enough squad he has been left with by CB Holdings and his only real option was to introduce a barely-interested Luis Jimenez for the booked Franco, who was taken off for his own safety having been given a final warning by Clattenburg following a late challenge on Jozy Altidore.

The failure to dismiss Franco was just one of many decisions the inconsistant Clattenburg got wrong during the game. Hull had benefitted hugely from his decisions with at least two of their three goals coming from contentious calls, although the Hammers were also fortunate not to concede a penalty in the closing minutes when Matthew Upson climbed all over Vennegoor of Hesselink - a challenge far more deserving of a penalty than that which saw Faubert penalised in the first half.

Of course, had West Ham not gifted their opponents too much ground in the lead up to the goals those decisions would never have been made - and it has to be said, Zola's team are a shambles defensively at present.

Matthew Upson has never looked less assured in a claret and blue shirt whilst partner Da Costa, despite the goal, looked anything but a competent centre half. With a right-winger and centre-half filling in at full back it's perhaps no surprise that West Ham were once again all over the place; teams must be relishing playing United right now.

But little blame should be apportioned to Messrs Zola and Clarke, who have seen the likes of Craig Bellamy, Lucas Neill and James Collins sold off to satisfy club owners CB Holdings without satisfactory replacements being made.

One can only hope that the club's ownership situation can be resolved sooner rather than later, else it could prove to be a long, hard winter for West Ham.



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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Comments to follow.


Julien Faubert
Comments to follow.


Danny Gabbidon
Comments to follow.


Manuel Da Costa
Comments to follow.


Matthew Upson
Comments to follow.


Scott Parker
Comments to follow.


Valon Behrami
Comments to follow.


Jack Collison
Comments to follow.


Junior Stanislas
Comments to follow.


Carlton Cole
Comments to follow.


Guillermo Franco
Comments to follow.


Substitutes


Zavon Hines
(Replaced Behrami, 60 minutes) Comments to follow.


Luis Jimenez
(Replaced Franco, 70 minutes) Comments to follow.


Peter Kurucz
Did not play.


Herita Ilunga
Did not play.


Jonathan Spector
Did not play.


Radoslav Kovac
Did not play.


Frank Nouble
Did not play.



Match Facts

Referee: Mark Clattenburg.

Attendance: 24,909.

Man of the Match: tbc.

West Ham United

Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Danny Gabbidon, Manuel Da Costa, Matthew Upson, Scott Parker, Valon Behrami, Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas, Carlton Cole, Guillermo Franco.

Goals: Guillermo Franco 5 Jack Collison 11 Manuel Da Costa 69              .

Booked: Zavon Hines  Junior Stanislas  Guillermo Franco  Luis Jimenez     .

Sent off: None.

Hull City

.

Substitutes: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: None.

Booked: .

Sent Off: Mendy (54).

 

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Staff Writer's Man of the Match: tbc