Filed: Sunday, 16th October 2005
By: Matthew O'Greel
West Ham are now three games without a win in the Premiership after going down 2-1 at The City of Manchester Stadium this afternoon.
Andy Cole scored both goals for City before Bobby Zamora (pictured above) added an injury-time consolation after another poor performance on the road for the Hammers.
The first major chance of the game fell to Manchester City's Danny Mills after 11 minutes. The former England full-back rose highest to meet Kizito Musampa's corner but his glancing header was cleared off the line by Yossi Benayoun, standing guard on the far post.
Andrew 'Andy' Cole opened the scoring on 18 minutes when he latched on to a short pass from Darius Vassell after City caught the Hammers short at the back; the veteran striker cleverly lifted his shot from the corner of the six yard box over Roy Carroll into the far corner.
Paul Konchesky stopped a certain second when he cleared a glancing strike from Vassell off the line five minutes later; once again Tomas Repka was the culprit as he completely missed a tackle allowing Musampa the freedom of the pitch.
West Ham had to wait until the 27th minute for their first real clear cut opportunity; Matthew Etherington escaped his marker on the right flank and crossed for Marlon Harewood who was free in the box. Unfortunately for the Hammers the cross arrived slightly behind Harewood and he failed to connect with Sylvan Distin bearing down upon him.
Harewood - playing as the lone striker - continued to give City problems and was unlucky not to win a free-kick on the edge of the box four minutes later when he appeared to be pulled down by Distin as he raced through on goal; TV cameras confirmed that the City defender was lucky to escape with what would have been at least a yellow card had the decision gone West Ham's way.
Roy Carroll - playing with a broken thumb sustained during West Ham's last Premiership outing at Sunderland - had to make a good save from close range after Matty Etherington's poor clearance; Danny Mills stinging Carroll's hands with a rasping drive from some 12 yards out.
As the game ebbed and flowed West Ham had a good chance to break on 36 minutes as the ball bounced kindly for Matthew Etherington 40 yards from the City goal. Unfortunately Etherington's attempted pass to Paul Konchesky - breaking down the flank - was overhit and ran out harmlessly for a goal kick.
The Hammers had another good chance on 44 minutes when Etherington again found space on the flank; his cross found Harewood but the Hammers striker failed to connect cleanly and City keeper David James gathered the resulting loose ball.
The final action of the half came in the closing seconds when Paul Konchesky was called into action for a second time on the line when he was forced to nod away a Distin header from another Musampa corner; that being the Hammers' third goal line clearance of the half.
Former Manchester United players Roy Carroll and Teddy Sheringham were unsurprisingly booed on every touch by the home supporters; Sheringham's former strike partner at United, Andrew Cole getting something of a warmer reception after scoring the only goal of the half.
Alan Pardew reacted to West Ham's poor first-half display by hauling off the out-of-sorts Tomas Repka for a second successive game; his place was again taken by club captain Christian Dailly.
City started the second half as they finished the first, being the brighter of the two sides. Just three minutes in Andy Cole found himself with time to shoot from just 10 yards out, but his low strike was directed straight at Roy Carroll.
West Ham's best opportunity of the game to that point came two minutes later. Marlon Harewood sent Matthew Etherington through on goal but he could only shoot weakly, straight at David James after running 40 yards with the ball.
City spurned another great opportunity less than a minute later when Andy Cole found himself one on one with Roy Carroll; fortunately for the Hammers the big Irish keeper spread himself well to save from close range.
Darius Vassell had the next goalscoring opportunity on 53 minutes when he found space on the left with Paul Konchesky still chasing back after a Hammers break. However Roy Carroll's save was easy to make as Vassell hit the ball straight at him with Danny Gabbidon in close attendance.
Etherington's earlier miss proved to be a turning point as City made their possessive advantage count three minutes later when Andrew Cole made it 2-0. Hayden Mullins was caught dallying on the edge of the box by Darius Vassell who slipped the ball wide for Musampa. His shot was well saved by Roy Carroll but the resulting ball bounced kindly for City with Cole pouncing from just four yards out. Moments after spurning a great opportunity to level the scores, the Hammers now found themselves two down.
West Ham almost struck back immediately when Matthew Etherington's deep cross found Yossi Benayoun at the far post. However the Israeli international could only find the side-netting from an acute angle with David James scrambling across his goal.
Musampa missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 when sent through by Darius Vassell on 65 minutes; despite having a clear sight of goal he could only find the side-netting from no more than 12 yards out.
Alan Pardew rang the changes for a second time a minute later when he introduced striker Bobby Zamora. The former Brighton man replaced Teddy Sheringham, who had been virtually anonymous throughout.
The change seemed to give the Hammers added impetus, and three minutes later David James was forced into a good save as the ball broke free in the City area. Yossi Benayoun was first onto the loose ball but James saved smartly.
Stephen Jordan became the second City player to have his name taken after a poor tackle on Anton Ferdinand on 72 minutes; as Ferdinand hooked the ball clear from the edge of the Hammers box Jordan left his leg in and took Ferdinand out at knee-height.
Marlon Harewood saw another shot easily saved by David James on 73 as the Hammers pressed forward in search of a goal. A minute later Bobby Zamora fired wide from the right side of the box. A case of too little, too late for the Hammers.
City - and Cole - almost added a third with 15 minutes left on the clock; after the number nine found space on the edge of the box; Cole turned sharply but could only find the side netting with his shot. Two minutes later it was Bobby Zamora's turn to blast high and wide at the other end.
A good break by Paul Konchesky on 77 gave the Hammers' full-back his first shooting opportunity of the game. Unfortunately he was at full stretch to meet the return pass from Marlon Harewood and shot tamely at James.
City made their first change of the match with 10 minutes remaining as Stephen Ireland was replaced by Lee Croft. His introduction was immediately followed by a curling free-kick from Musampa on the right flank 25 yards from goal which was missed by all and swept narrowly wide of Roy Carroll's goal.
West Ham's defence was at sixes and sevens again just a minute later when Roy Carroll opted to leave a deep cross which found Andy Cole who was allowed to shoot from close range. Carroll however was alert and saved well to keep the deficit at two.
Yossi Benayoun missed a glorious opportunity to give the Hammers a fighting chance after a wonderful lofted cross by Matthew Etherington with just five minutes left on the clock. Despite racing clear of the City defence David James did well to avert the Israeli's shot, although a poor first touch with the chest hardly helped Benayoun's cause.
The Hammers survived a penalty shout a minute later when Musampa raced through clear of the defence. Christian Dailly and Roy Carroll just did enough to ensure the ball ran out of play despite Musampa's protestations. The tiring midfielder was replaced seconds later by Sun Jihai.
City were again asking for a penalty just 40 seconds later after Andrew Cole went down in the box under pressure from Anton Ferdinand; rightly play was waved on by the referee.
Despite being two down and with the game all but over the travelling contingent continued to spur the Hammers on with rousing renditions of 'Bubbles'. That enthusiasm appeared to get through to the players who promptly scored through Bobby Zamora in the first minute of added time.
Yossi Benayoun slipped a glorious slide-rule pass through into the path of Zamora who coolly rounded David James before slipping the ball into an empty net.
Had it come five minutes earlier the Hammers may well have been able to grab a lucky and undeserved equaliser - but the home side managed to play out the remaining minute or so with no further danger.
Although the result showed only one goal between the sides at full time the truth was that the Hammers were soundly outplayed on the day, and couldn't have complained had they lost by a greater margin.
Zamora's late consolation strike flattered Alan Pardew's side, who have now taken just two points from their last three Premiership matches. Despite the defeat the Hammers remain in ninth but more importantly, seven points above the relegation zone.
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