Filed: Saturday, 6th October 2007
By: Matthew O'Greel
West Ham United slipped to a third consecutive Premier league defeat against Aston Villa at Villa Park this afternoon.
A 24th minute goal from rookie Craig Gardner was enough to condemn the Hammers to defeat, a second successive one goal reversal following last weekend's home defeat against Arsenal.
Like last weekend the Hammers enjoyed plenty of possession whilst creating a number of goalscoring oportunities, but once again they failed to make the most of them.
Most guilty perhaps was fifth-choice striker Carlton Cole who spurned two gilt-edged chances to earn United something from the game - one coming in the 94th minute which would have left the home side no time to regain their lead.
However that Cole was even playing in the game was testament to United's failure to land a top-class striker to replace Carlos Tevez during the summer transfer window.
With West Ham's only front line summer purchase, Craig Bellamy, out of action for at least a fortnight West Ham's shortcomings are being exposed, with just one goal scored in the last three games (all defeats).
Whilst that statistic may pale in comparison with last season's club record run of eight games without a goal, Alan Curbishley will no doubt be worried about the lack of impact his team are having in the opposing half of the pitch.
Dean Ashton - slowly nearing full fitness again - was, as always, a handful for the Villa rearguard - whilst strike partners Henri Camara (injured after 36 minutes) and (replacement) Carlton Cole had the kind of games they will wish to forget.
Villa - featuring Nigel Reo-Coker, who was reminded at every opportunity by Hammers fans exactly how they felt about the lies he told in order to procure a move away from East London - were perhaps fortunate to take all three points from a fairly even game.
There was a more than touch of luck about the goal which won the game; a Gardner free-kick on the edge of the box was fired through a crowd of players - including the wall - before cannoning off the unfortunate Danny Gabbidon into the bottom corner.
Question marks could perhaps be asked about United's defending for the set-piece, and as to why no player was placed on the post at which the goal was scored.
But the real concern tonight should be about the lack of goals scored at the other end of the field - plenty of food for thought for Alan Curbishley as he looks to arrest a worrying slide which leaves the Hammers in the bottom half of the table this evening.
West Ham United: Green, Neill, McCartney, Upson, Gabbidon, Bowyer, Mullins (Noble 80), Ljungberg, Etherington (Boa Morte 81), Camara (Cole 36), Ashton.
Subs not Used: Wright, Collins.
Booked: Camara (9), McCartney (73).
Aston Villa: Carson, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Knight, Gardner (Petrov 78), Reo-Coker, Barry, Young, Moore (Maloney 66), Agbonlahor.
Subs Not used: Taylor, Davies, Osbourne.
Goals: Gardner (24).
Booked: Knight (36), Reo-Coker (55), Mellberg (68).
Referee: Steve Tanner.
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by keith cockayne
07:22PM 8th Oct 2007
''I was at the match and it was there for the taking! Villa had about 15 minuits in the ascendancy around the time that they scored, but they never looked really dangerous. Apart from that, it was all West Ham, but, with a problem. No strike force to complement the effort of Ashton and Ljungberg. Camara was useless and Cole has a big problem - a total lack of confidence.
On a positive note the defence looked solid and Gabbidon had a good game (I'm not sure that he made the foul that gave Villa the goal). However, unless Curbishly can find 3 lethal strikers we are going to get nowhere when either Ashton or Bellamy are missing ... ''
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