West Ham 1
Goals: 1-0 (Collison 70)
- Match reports
- 01 March 2009 14:30
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Mark Hughes named the same side that started the game last Sunday at Anfield, so the suspended SWP was replaced by Nigel de Jong. The big news was from the bench, where Valeri Bojinov made his first appearance since rupturing his Achilles tendon in the pre-match warm-up at Villa Park back in August.
It was a dull, overcast day in the capital with a chill in the air at kick-off, and there was a hostile reception for Craig Bellamy from the home support – just the sort of thing he usually relishes!
Cole posed the early problems for Shay Given, getting close to charging a clearance down in the third minute, and then the striker was not too far away from Ilunga’s low cross that skimmed over from the left – a similar attempt to the one that opened the scoring for Rolando Bianchi here last season.
Bellamy ignored the vitriol flying his way from the stands on nine minutes to get a cross in that Ilunga nervously tapped behind for a corner. Ireland swung it over but the defence cleared the ball away to safety. Seconds later Mike Dean booked Scott Parker for his foul on Richards as the City full back tried to break down the right flank.
Incidents galore around the 15 minute mark really got the crowd going. Robinho’s backheel to a Kompany volley was pushed behind by Green for a corner, but the Brazilian had looked to be offside when making his attempt - and West Ham’s fans let the linesman know this. Richards had been struggling since Parker’s foul, and he left the pitch to be replaced by Felipe Caicedo. Zabaleta shifted to right back, while Bellamy took up a new station further up the right flank.
But it was from the other side that the Welshman set up a chance where we really should have taken the lead. After nipping inside Neill, Bellamy crossed and the ball went all the way over, past Caicedo, to Robinho but the Brazilian put the chance just wide from close range when a goal looked odds-on.
The hosts pressurised and forced a dubious-looking corner on 26, and after being initially cleared Behrami’s volley was charged down by de Jong. Seconds later, Given got down well to a Di Michele shot and then it got lively on the touchline with the City bench adamant that Zabaleta had been kicked.
Di Mechele had the next chance on 32 minutes, driving a shot straight at Given but from his reaction the Italian knew he should have done a lot better. There was a long pause in proceedings with a few minutes to half time when Behrami went to ground and needed lengthy treatment. The midfielder looked to have seriously damaged a knee when twisting his foot in the turf, and he was eventually stretchered off.
Bellamy set up our next chance after the restart, crossing from the right towards Wayne Bridge, who could not quite get on top of the chance and nodded over from just in front of Green. The move had started with a foul on de Jong, and after it ended the referee booked Kovac.
Dunne nipped in to deny Collison at the near post two minutes into the second half, and at the other end Robinho was unable to get a shot in after getting to the byeline. The City skipper was it again just afterwards, making a perfectly timed challenge on Cole in the area that had the home fans calling, wrongly, for a penalty.
The Hammers were having the best of it now, and Parker was the next to have a go at goal, getting onto the end of a cross over from the left only to see Wayne Bridge get in the way, typifying City’s efforts in defence so far.
Craig Bellamy was replaced by Elano with 25 minutes left to the predictable hail of abuse from the stands – and hi-five from former manager Gianfranco Zola.
Shay Given made a flying to save to deny Savio on 70 minutes – but he could do nothing as Jack Collison followed up to volley the rebound home.
A chance for City get back on terms went begging four minutes later when Caicedo wriggled into space and shot for goal, but from a good position he could only find the side-netting. Within a minute, Robinho was dragging a shot from outside the area a yard wide of the post. The South American pair then got in each other’s way when trying to collect a knock-down from Ireland, the resulting shot going well over Green’s bar.
As time began to run out Robinho’s testing shot was touched wide by Neill. At this point de Jong came off to be replaced by Valeri Bojinov, the striker appearing on the pitch for City for the first time in the league since August 2007 and getting a nice reception from the City fans behind Green’s goal.
As we entered stoppage time Parker hauled down Robinho on the edge of the box, Elano took the free kick and Lucas Neill got enough on it to deflect the ball behind when it looked to be heading in.
Fine work from Bojinov at the opposite ended saw him dispossess Cole, but we could not threaten an equaliser in the remaining time and referee Dean’s whistle blew to bring down the curtain on another away defeat for City.