Bolton Wanderers 4 West Ham Utd 0

  • by Matthew O'Greel
  • Saturday, 9th December 2006

West Ham United's season hit a new low after a thumping defeat at The Reebok Stadium this afternoon.

United capitulated against a distinctly ordinary looking Bolton side to record yet another defeat on the road which heaps more pressure on the under-fire Alan Pardew.

Since Eggert Magnusson's consortium took control of the club his team have recorded one win (somewhat fortuitously against Sheffield United) and three defeats, whilst slipping into the Premiership drop-zone.

Pardew's side looked inept at times today, and many more defeats like this may put pressure on the new owners - whose £100m investment is at stake - to look to a fresh face in order to reverse the team's fortunes.

Bolton's emphatic victory belied their recent form; they went into the game having taken just four points from the previous 21, whilst United were without a win away from home all season - and without a goal since Bobby Zamora's opener in the 2-1 defeat against Liverpool back in August.

That sequence now extends to nearly 12 hours and only serves to emphasise the serious lack of creativity in a United side which has barely threatened to score away from home since that Zamora goal at Anfield.

Alan Pardew went into today's game with a changed formation - but not, as had been expected, in personnel - and played a five man midfield, anchored by the returning Christian Dailly.

Anton Ferdinand - injured in Wednesday's 2-0 defeat at home to Wigan - was replaced by George McCartney in the centre of defence, whilst Marlon Harewood was preferred to Bobby Zamora for the lone striker role.

Bolton began the first-half on top as United sat back, apparently happy to soak up any pressure. But with little more than a quarter-of-an-hour on the clock those plans went out of the window as the home side capitalised on some poor defending.

Nicolas Anelka floated a cross to the far post where Gary Speed beat Jonathan Spector rather too easily to head the ball back across goal. Diouf centred the ball from the opposing far post and Kevin Davies - who appeared to lose marker George McCartney by shoving him to the floor moments earlier right in front of referee Howard Webb - volleyed the ball into an empty net.

Worse could have followed for Pardew's side on 27 minutes when Rob Green was forced into a smart save when left one-on-one with Anelka just yards from goal. Another scare followed five minutes from the break when Diouf nodded over a free header from just six yards out after McCartney misjudged a cross.

Despite enjoying 52% of first-half possession United's only effort on goal in the opening period came two minutes from half-time when Carlos Tevez's scuffed shot from the edge of the box rolled through to Jussi Jaskeleinan.

Whilst it wasn't the scoreline Alan Pardew would have wished for at the break, the game was still a contest at that stage. However the fight all but left a Hammers side devoid of confidence and belief five minutes into the second half when Kevin Davies scored his second of the game with a toe-poke following Ivan Campo's knockdown from a corner on the right.

Despite looking out of ideas West Ham enjoyed their best period of play for the five minutes following Bolton's second goal, and with a little more luck Matthew Etherington would have got on the end of Marlon Harewood's 51st minute mis-hit shot. As it was, he was inches away.

Harewood created a chance for himself three minutes later when he took advantage of an error by Bolton's keeper on the edge of the penalty box but opted to control the ball with his first touch instead of shooting into an empty net - albeit from a difficult angle - allowing the covering defender to put the ball to safety.

That was about as good as it got for the Hammers, and it was no surprise when the home side added a third fifteen minutes from time. Diouf picked up the ball some 35 yards from goal and with James Collins backing off (in an similar fashion to Everton's second goal last weekend) the Bolton striker was allowed to run into the box and fire wide into Rob Green's bottom far post.

To heap more misery on Alan Pardew and his side Diouf scored a second goal inside three minutes when he made it 4-0 with 13 to play. Gary Speed's defence-splitting pass saw the striker burst through and with McCartney and Collins left in his wake he chipped the ball over Rob Green.

The defeat was West Ham's heaviest of the season - and had Kevin Nolan not fired wide on 83 minutes when it looked easier to score, or had Ivan Campo's 92nd minute shot cannoned off the inside of the post instead of the outside - it could have been even worse.

But that will be little consolation to Alan Pardew, whose team were being assessed from the stands by new owners Mssrs Magnusson and Gudmundssonn - neither of whom looked particularly pleased at the farcical performance they were being forced to endure.

Chairman Magnusson has already implied that he would have no hesitation in making changes if he felt they were necessary to improve results on the pitch. Alan Pardew - whose team remain in 18th place in the league - may be a worried man tonight.

* Despite the thrashing West Ham's ever-loyal travelling suport still managed to see the funny side of things and marked the defeat with a conga in the stands...

West Ham United: Green, Spector (Paintsil 59), Konchesky, McCartney, Dailly, Collins; Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Tevez (Sheringham 59); Harewood.

Subs not used: Carroll, Benayoun, Zamora.

Booked: Reo-Coker (48), Etherington (65).

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Pedersen, Meite, Campo, Faye, Nolan, Speed (Gardner 88), Davis (Vaz Te 82), Diouf (Tal 79), Anelka.

Subs not used: Al-Habsi, Giannakopoulos.

Goals: Davies (17, 52), Diouf (75, 77).

Booked: Diouf (35), Campo (47).

Referee: Howard Webb.

Attendance: 22,283.

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