West Ham United 3:2 Leicester City
Leicester City have no manager and no luck in East London as they suffer another defeat
City suffered their third defeat in four games at Upton Park and will genuinely feel that luck deserted them on this occasion as they finally showed some passion and urgency.
Mike Stowell and Jon Rudkin made only one change to the side that lost so badly at home to Millwall with Darius Vassell replacing Michael Johnson to make up a three-man attack. It was a cautious start by both sides and little happened until the home side opened the scoring in the 20th minute when John Carew reached the byline and floated a cross to the far post where Baldock nodded home. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Hammers had a two-goal lead within a minute of the restart when Joey O’Brien made the most of the space down City’s left flank and laid the ball back for Faubert who had far too much time as he drove a low, angled shot along the ground and in to the corner from the edge of the area. This double whammy didn’t really sting City in to life and instead they lacked urgency and looked lethargic and West Ham looked capable of increasing their lead before half time. City enjoyed a brief spell of pressure before half time with Bamba going close and Beckford drawing a superb point-blank save from Rob Green.
If City looked off the pace in the first half then they started the second half with renewed purpose and took the game to West Ham from the off. Suddenly there was running and desire about City that we haven’t seen for several games and this was helped when Beckford was substituted to a crescendo of boos from the three thousand or so City fans. It was soon after that Andy King hauled City back in to the game with a far post header from a Wellens cross after West Ham failed to clear their lines. This was the cue for a sustained spell of pressure from City who had West Ham on the back foot and defending desperately at times and when Reid sent King tumbling in the box it seems the only man who thought it wasn’t a penalty was Referee Linington. Against the run of play, West Ham increased their lead when a long clearance from Green was nodded on by Piquionne for Baldock to hit the ball first time past Schmeichel in a superbly controlled finish. But heads didn’t drop and within four minutes a long kick by Schmeichel was nodded on by Steve Howard and Nugent set up Andy King for a twenty yard strike in to the top corner. There were still fifteen minutes remaining and City threw everything at The Hammers and came close several times: Howard saw a deflected header come back off the bar, Nugent’s brilliant turn and shot missed by a coat of paint and Green dived superbly to keep out a Peltier header.
In the end City ran out of time and West Ham were mighty relieved to hear the final whistle and none more so than Rob Green who took it upon himself to run to the City faithful and make his feelings be known and nearly started a small riot in the process. He had been getting some stick throughout the second half from the large travelling contingent but nothing to justify his ill-advised gestures at the final whistle. Whilst City can take heart from a superb second half display there is a feeling that this was a missed opportunity against a West Ham side that worked hard but were nothing special.
West Ham: Green, O’Brien, Faye (Tomkins 66), Reid, McCartney, Faubert, Noble, Nolan (c), Collison, Carew (Piquionne), Baldock (Sears 88).Unused subs: Boffin, Bouba-Diop.
City: Schmeichel, Peltier, St. Ledger, Bamba, Konchesky, Wellens (c), Abe, King, Vassell (Dyer 46 (Johnson 74)), Beckford (Howard 56), Nugent.Unused subs: Weale, Pantsil.
Attendance: 30,410 Referee: James Linington (Isle of Wight)