West Ham Utd 2 Reading 4

  • by Staff Writer
  • Saturday, 31st March 2012

West Ham's chances of automatic promotion are hanging in the balance after Sam Allardyce's side threw away a promising start with a catalogue of horrific individual errors.

Despite having Reading rattled and on the verge of capitulating the Hammers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a string of uncharacteristic mistakes from some of the team's more reliable members.

Carlton Cole had given West Ham the perfect start that Sam Allardyce had called for when he turned sharply inside the penalty area to fire home beneath Adam Federici with just seven minutes on the clock.

That goal was followed by a spell of scintillating football - some of the best the Hammers have produced all season - as the home side took the game to the Royals, who, at that stage, simply couldn't cope.

Clearly rattled, Reading were holding on for dear life as West Ham - for once in perfect harmony with the Boleyn crowd - created chance after chance as they threatened to kill the game by the break.

Yet once again the Hammers failed to capitalised on a string of opportunities and were stung by a sucker punch in the 44th minute of the first half when Kaspars Gorkss was first to react to a Ian Harte corner that arose from a mistake by Mark Noble.

Yet incredible there was worse to come for the shell-shocked Hammers when, in the second minute of first half injury time, Noel Hunt made the most of a Julien Faubert error to fire into Rob Green's bottom right-hand corner.

Little fault could be attributed to manager Sam Allardyce for the half time deficit as West Ham's domination in the opening 45 minutes proved he had got his team selection and tactics absolutely spot on.

However the manager's decision to replace the injured Mark Noble (thigh) at the break with Danny Collins - moving central defender James Tomkins into midfield instead of introducing recognised midfielder Henri Lansbury - proved to be costly as his team failed to get close to the high standards they had set in the opening half.

The visitors, buoyed by their unexpected half time advantage went 3-1 ahead on the hour mark after Abdoulaye Faye, usually so reliable made a horrendous gaff when trying to control a cross. Having allowed the ball to slip away from him the 34-year-old brought down Noel Hunt with a lunge - and Harte stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick.

West Ham briefly threatened an unexpected comeback when Ricardo Vaz Te climbed highest to convert Gary O'Neil's corner to reduce the deficit to just one goal. But Mikele Leigertwood finally put the game beyond United with six minutes of normal time remaining, leaving West Ham four points adrift of today's visitors.

Blackpool's 3-0 demolition of leaders Southampton later in the day - a result that ensures the Saints remain six points ahead of West Ham and just two ahead of Reading - was scant reward for such a dreadful result.

With just six games of the season left to play Allardyce's side must somehow eradicate that sizable gap if they are to avoid the lottery of the play-offs - something that few would back them to win given their appalling lack of form at home; West Ham have taken just five points from the last 18 at the Boleyn Ground.

West Ham Utd 2 Reading 4: match facts

West Ham Utd: Green, Faubert, Tomkins, Faye, McCartney, Noble (Collins 46), O'Neil, Nolan, Vaz Te, Taylor (Baldock 60), Cole (Maynard 72).

Subs not used: , Lansbury, Carew.

Goals: Cole (8), Vaz Te (77).

Booked: Tomkins (74), Faubert (90).

Shots on/off target: 9/3 (12).

Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Kebe (Afobe 82), Gorkss, Harte, Karacan (Tabb 55, Robson-Kanu 67), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts.

Subs not used: McCarthy, Church.

Goals: Gorkss (44), Hunt (45+2), Harte (pen 59), Leigertwood (84).

Booked: Roberts (27).

Shots on/off target: 8/3 (11).

Referee: Chris Foy (5).

Assistants: Simon Bennett and Richard West.

Fourth Official: Mick Russell.

Attendance: 33,350.

Did you know? Reading's win today was the first time the Hammers had lost at home by more than a single goal since the final day of last season when Sunderland won 3-0 at the Boleyn Ground.

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