Filed: Sunday, 23rd August 2009
By: Staff Writer
An understrength Hammers side slipped to their first defeat of the new season thanks to a late winner from Aaron Lennon.
Gianfranco Zola's side, missing Herita Ilunga and Kieron Dyer from the team that won comfortably at Wolves last week plus long term absentees Dean Ashton and Valon Behrami took the lead through a wonderful Carlton Cole striker before conceding two late goals to gift all three points to the visitors.
A tense first half had ended goalless although Spurs went closest to opening the scoring through a Ledley King header that looped over Rob Green before clipping his crossbar on that half hour mark. At the other end, the closest West Ham went to breaking the deadlock was through Scott Parker, who forced a fingertip save from stand-in keeper Carlo Cudicini with one of United's rare efforts on goal.
The game, which had been a decent spectacle despite failing to produce any major moments of goalmouth incident exploded into life just four minutes into the second half when Carlton Cole scored a goal even better than Mark Noble's stunning strike against Wolves last weekend.
It was one of those rare moments when the crowd were universally stunned, something notable by the reaction to the goal which contained an audible 'ooohhhhh' amongst the cheers - something last heard at the Boleyn when Paolo Di Canio scored his volleyed goal of the season against Wimbledon eight years ago.
Cole, picking up the ball some 25 yards from goal let the ball drop before instantly unleashing a fierce, dipping volley that flew into the top right-hand corner of Cudicini's net. It was not only Cole's first goal of the new campaign, but surely the best he has ever scored - and is ever likely to.
The goal was also the first in four attempts for Zola against Tottenham, who had also seen his side suffer three defeats in three meetings prior to today's meeting. However Zola's and West Ham's joy was to be shortlived when hero turned villain just five minutes later as Cole, much to his obvious dismay, played an inexplicable back pass straight to former Hammer Jermain Defoe on the edge of the box which the in-form striker finished with some aplomb to restore parity.
Thereafter either side could have snatched the win; West Ham were unlucky to be denied a penalty on the hour mark when Luis Jimenez, who enjoyed an excellent home Premier League debut was tripped inside the box by the vastly improved Essou-Ekotto as the Chilean made his way towards goal. Dithering referee Mark Clattenburg, who wasn't have the best of games as it was presumably decided that Jimenez made a meal of the challenge - although no yellow card was forthcoming which tends to suggest a lack of certainly over his decision, which typified his afternoon.
Jimenez also went close nine minutes later when his header had Cudicini scrambling at his near post to push the ball away with outstretched fingers. However it was to be the visitors who went home with all three points when winger Aaron Lennon made the most of a Jonathan Spector slip to fire across Rob Green into his far corner just eleven minutes from time. Spector, who had otherwise performed ably as cover for the injured Herita Ilunga at left back was considerably unlucky.
Lennon's goal neccesitated a further change but Gianfranco Zola, bereft of any real attacking alternatives due to a combination of injuries and the board's failure to sign anyone other than the aforementioned Jimenez so far during the summer transfer window was forced to introduce 20-year-old Zavon Hines and 17-year-old Frank Nouble (one Premier League appearance between them before today) in search of a late equaliser.
Not surprisingly that failed to materialise, but worryingly the sqaud's frailties have already been exposed just two games into the new season. Should the club fail to bring in any more new faces - or even worse, reduce it further with a sale or two - it could prove to be a long, difficult campaign.
West Ham Utd 1 Tottenham 2: match facts
West Ham Utd: Green, Spector, Faubert, Collins, Upson, Parker (Hines 85), Noble, Collison (Nouble 89), Stanislas, Jimenez (Kovac 78), Cole.
Subs not used: Kurucz, Gabbidon, Tomkins, Payne.
Goals: Cole (49).
Efforts on goal: 17 (8 on target, 9 off target).
Booked: Jimenez (30), Faubert (90+2).
Tottenham: Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Lennon, Palacios, Modric (O'Hara 86),Keane (Crouch 81), Defoe (Naughton 90+4).
Subs not used: Button, Hutton, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko.
Goals: Defoe, Lennon.
Efforts on goal: 17 (10 on target, 7 off target).
Booked: Huddlestone (64).
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
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by oldun (THFC)
08:36PM 23rd Aug 2009
''Hard fought game from which West Ham earned some well deserved credit. Report somewhat spoiled by the wearing of the Wenger's glasses. Look at the action replay and you will see that there was no trip on Jimenez. Watch it as often as you like and you can see Jimenez was not clipped.
Although Clattenburg didn't have the best of games as a Hammer you should give him credit for not booking Jimenez for trying to con him. Give credit where it's due and good luck for the rest of the season. I like the football you always try to play.''
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