Coventry City 1 West Ham United 2
Tuesday, 30th October 2007
by Graeme Howlett
West Ham United are through to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup thanks to an injury time winner from Carlton Cole.The big striker - playing the lone role up front this evening due to a succession of injuries - held his nerve to win the game for the Hammers after being put clean through on goal in the fourth minute of injury time.
However twenty minutes prior to Cole's strike United were in dire straights after Jay Tabb had given the Championship outfit the lead. A simple ball over the top on 68 minutes caught the Hammers rearguard flat-footed and Tabb stole through on the far side - unchallenged - to nod home.
West Ham - who had rarely threatened the Coventry goal - looked at that stage as if they were about to add another lower league name to a long list of embarrassing Cup defeats. But vitally, Luis Boa Morte restored parity just four minutes later when his controlled strike took a wicked deflection via the foot of City's Ben Turner, giving Andy Marshall no chance.
Alan Curbishley had gone into the game with just one fit striker - Carlton Cole - at his disposal. But yet again Cole - as he did against Portsmouth last weekend - led the line superbly, and his winning goal was the icing on the cake of another solid performance.
Elsewhere the ever-improving George McCartney produced yet another impressive performance, whilst the rejuvenated Matthew Etherington - through whom most of United's best chances came - caused the City defence problems all night with a series of probing runs on the left flank.
Despite their divisional advantage the Hammers started the game slowly, and had to wait until the 11th minute before creating a meaningful effort on goal; Mark Noble's 25-yard free-kick fizzing narrowly over the bar.
At the other end Coventry failed to profit from the lions' share of possession, and just one real opportunity - a crisp drive across goal that narrowly evaded Richard Wright's far post on 22 minutes - was created in the opening 45.
The first half ended in controversy after Luis Boa Morte was hauled down when clean through on goal. Most onlookers were expecting a red card for the errant City defender yet none were more surprised than Boa Morte himself when HE was penalised by referee Rob Styles. For what, we can but wonder.
The second half started off as the first had ended, but it wasn't until the 68th minute that the deadlock was broken by Tabb. That goal sparked what had until that point been something of a drab affair, and within five minutes Boa Morte had levelled the scores.
Thereafter both sides spurned a number of opportunities to go ahead; substitute Kyle completely mis-kicked six yards from goal with just Richard Wright to beat, whilst at the other end George McCartney fluffed a sitter, blasting into the side netting after profitting from a loose ball in the box.
But then up stepped Carlton Cole to send the Hammers - somewhat fortuitously, it could be said - into the quarter finals. Richard Wright's clearance was met by the head of Boa Morte, and Cole - who moments earlier was inches from meeting a Matthew Etherington drive across the six yard box - dashed through to meet the flick on.
After brushing off a defender - fairly, despite the protestations of the Coventry bench - the former Chelsea man regained his conposure before cooly slotting the ball beyond Marshall. For a player said to suffer with confidence problems, this was some finish in the circumstances.
So despite a less than convincing performance the Hammers are through to the quarter finals for the first time in six years. Who they meet will be decided this coming weekend.
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Player RatingsRichard Wright
A reasonably comfortable night for Wright. Little he could about the goal.
A better performance from the captain who is slowly beginning to regain his form of last season.
Some good runs down the flank; missed a sitter late on however.
Back in the side after recent injury but succumbed to what looked like a hamstring injury late on.
Dealt with the long balls well. Another competent performance.
Had an okay first half before being substituted at the break.
Not his greatest performance but was struggling for some time with an injury which saw him replaced at the break.
Put in some big challenges but provided little in the final third.
The source of all our best moves (but neither goal, strangely). Getting back to his best.
Luis Boa Morte
A great flick-on for the winning goal. However we had to wait 93 minutes for that, his best contribution of the night.
Led the line well and gave 100%. The goal - a superbly taken strike - was just reward for his efforts.
(replaced Camara, 46) Strangely deployed in the centre of midfield. Struggled at times to cope in unfamiliar territory.
(replaced Noble, 46) The forgotten man of the squad, but a decent first start of the season despite playing an unfamiliar midfield role.
(replaced Ferdinand, 85) Did enough to keep City at bay.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Richard Wright, Lucas Neill, George McCartney, Anton Ferdinand, Matthew Upson, Hayden Mullins, Mark Noble, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Luis Boa Morte, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Richard Hall (og) 71 Carlton Cole 90 .
Booked: George McCartney 16 Lucas Neill 34 Jonathan Spector 63 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Coventry City: Marshall, McNamee, Turner, Hall, De Zeeuw, Tabb, Doyle, Osbourne, Gray, Best, Mifsud.
Subs not used: Cairo, Ward, Thornton.
Goals: Tabb (68).
Booked: Osbourne (62).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Carlton Cole.