Man City 1 West Ham Utd 1

  • by Matthew O'Greel
  • Sunday, 20th January 2008

Alan Curbishley insisted during the week that there is no need to bring another striker into the squad.

But after his side failed to win this afternoon despite controlling the game, questions marks will once again be asked about the lack of firepower available to the United boss.

On paper, a point against a City side who have swept virtually all before them at the City of Manchester stadium this season looks like a good return. However so dominant were the Hammers there are bound to be a number of disappointed players in the away dressing room tonight.

Curbishley - already minus Craig Bellamy, Bobby Zamora (both injured) and Henri Camara (in Africa, which is the nearest he should be to the first team anyway) - saw his plans further disrupted when Dean Ashton pulled out of the game with a back problem leaving him with Carlton Cole as the only fit striker in the first team squad.

However it was Cole who made the biggest impression in the opening ten minutes by putting the Hammers ahead with a beautifully taken overhead kick.

Having seemingly lost control of a Freddie Ljungberg cross the big striker re-adjusted before looping the ball over his shoulder into young City keeper Joe Hart's bottom right-hand corner to score the Irons' first goal against City in five outings.

Sadly for West Ham they were able to hold on to the lead for just seven minutes - but there will be a great deal of disappointment in the United camp that City's equaliser was allowed to stand.

City's Darius Vassell was clearly standing in an offside position for the cross which led to his 16th minute goal, whilst the linesman - who couldn't have been better placed - inexplicably failed to spot the infringement. The ball eventually fell to the former Aston Villa man who lifted it over a prone Rob Green to level the scores, despite West Ham's protestations.

For City, that was just about their only decent chance of the game - whilst the Hammers, spurred on perhaps by having lost the midweek FA Cup replay at the same venue could - and should - have gone on to take all three points.

Freddie Ljungberg twice blasted into the side netting when he should have done better, whilst Hayden Mullins' effort from distance forced a good save from Hart. Mark Noble and Carlton Cole were also denied by good saves from the rookie stopper who had yet another impressive game between the sticks for a City side devoid of ideas at the other end.

Meanwhile sub Julien Faubert managed to find the net late on but his effort was ruled out, presumably, for a push by Bowyer on City captain Richard Dunne - although match referee Phil Dowd (who saw fit to caution Mark Noble for pointing out a City 'wall' wasn't the required ten yards away and Lee Bowyer for being hauled to the floor by an opponent) was having the sort of game that meant it was anyone's guess.

So despite their lack of creativity and invention City hung on for a point - frustrating for Curbishley, who knows that the performances offered by his team over the two matches against City this week were worthy of more than one defeat and one draw.

The noises coming out of Upton Park are that there will be no major signings this transfer window, despite Tottenham virtually offering Curbishley favourite Darren Bent on a plate. Should the Hammers go out on a limb - as they did last season to remain part of the Premier League - a European spot, on this showing, might just about be achievable.

However should the team continue with its current lack of firepower it's quite likely that there will be many more frustrating afternoons like this to come between now and the end of the season.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Green, Neill, McCartney, Upson, Ferdinand, Mullins, Bowyer (Spector 90+2), Noble, Ljungberg, Boa Morte (Faubert 71), Cole.

Subs not used: Wright, Collins, Reid.

Booked: Neill (27), Boa Morte (52), Bowyer (85), Noble (86).

Goals: Cole (8).

Manchester City: Hart, Corluka, Ball, Richards, Dunn, Hamann, Ireland (Geovanni 68), Elano (Garrido 78), Petrov, Bianchi, Vassell (Gelson 58).

Subs not used: Isaksson, Onuoha.

Booked: Dunne (33), Geovanni (85).

Goals: Vassell (16).

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Attendance: 27,809.

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