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West Ham Utd v Middlesbrough: half time report

Filed: Saturday, 14th February 2009
By: Staff Writer

The Hammers find themselves in a spot of bother at the break in this afternoon's FA Cup fifth round tie.

A 22nd minute header by Stewart Downing - his first goal of the season - seperates the two teams at the break, upsetting the pre-match odds in the process.

Middlesbrough - who went into the game just one place off the bottom of the Premier League - have been the better of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes, having afforded Gianfranco Zola's side no time on the ball.

United - themsleves without a goal in their last two games - have once again struggled to make an impact in the final third of the pitch, a cause not helped by the 34th minute substitution of leading striker Carlton Cole, who limped off with what appeared to be a slight strain.

His replacement - Diego Tristan - had one glorious chance to level the scores in the final minute of the half having been set up by David Di Michele, but the Spaniard could only blaze his effort well over the bar.

Middlesbrough, always dangerous on the break took the lead midway through the half when captain Lucas Neill was guilty of ball-watching, allowing Downing to nip in at the far post and convert a Gary O'Neill cross.

West Ham's best spell of the half came on the quarter-hour mark when they fashioned four chances within the space of just five minutes. However Cole, Mark Noble (twice) and James Collins all failed to break the deadlock thanks mainly to good work from keeper Jones.

We'll have more for you at the final whistle.

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