Hammers edge unlucky Blues
By Stephen Bateman. Last Updated: December 5, 2005 8:37pm
Birmingham City are still without a home win in the Premiership this season after West Ham came from behind to beat Steve Bruce's men 2-1 at St Andrew's on Monday night.
First-half goals from Bobby Zamora and Marlon Harewood wiped out the early lead given to the Blues courtesy of Emile Heskey's 11th minute opener. But The Blues can count themselves deeply unlucky to lose their sixth home game on the bounce after slack finishing cost them dearly.
The game had started slowly until Heskey ignited affairs with a great finish from a tight angle.
David Dunn threaded a perfectly weighted through-ball into the right-hand side of the West Ham area, allowing the big striker to round Roy Carroll before passing the ball left-footed into an empty net.
The Hammers tried to force their way straight back into the contest, with Hayden Mullins and Harewood both going close. City keeper Nico Vaesen was then called into action, utilising every inch of his massive frame as he hung in the air to tip over a looping header from Harewood.
Heskey continued to look lively but disappointingly headed over after getting on the end of a Jermaine Pennant cross. It was then the turn of the former Arsenal man to cut out a slice of action for himself, having a fierce drive blocked by Paul Konchesky.
Then, on 36 minutes, Zamora silenced the critics who had called his Premiership pedigree into question with a sublime piece of skill.
The former Spurs forward collected a throw-in with his back to goal just inside the Birmingham area and, with Martin Taylor goal-side of him, he flicked the ball over the defender, turning in the process.
Zamora then demonstrated exceptional close control to take the covering Damian Johnson out of the equation before firing home for an outstanding individual goal.
As the home fans began to articulate their frustrations, Harewood justified their concerns as he bagged his sixth Premiership goal of the season right on the stroke of half-time following some good work from Matthew Etherington.
The Cornishman just managed to keep the ball in play before pulling back from the byline. Bruce will have been livid at his defenders's half-hearted attempts at clearing the cross, which eventually fell to a grateful Harewood who slammed home at the back post.
On 57 minutes Nicky Butt, on as a first-half substitute for Muzzy Izzet, tried the spectacular but failed to connect cleanly with an attempted bicycle-kick as The Hammers looked to absorb the Birmingham threat.
The former England star had another chance to level a few minutes later when the ball fell to him in the West Ham area, but his technique let him down again as he lifted his shot narrowly over the crossbar.
On 76 minutes Dunn, by far the best Blues player on the night, was unlucky to see his speculative shot from the edge of the area graze Carroll's right-hand upright.
Matthew Upson really should have scored shortly afterwards when the ball broke to him inside the six-yard box after a goalmouth scramble. With a goal looking certain, the former Arsenal man got underneath the ball and embarrassingly skied his shot over the bar.
As the home side turned up the heat, Paul Konchesky misdirected a clearance straight at Heskey on the edge of the area, but again the equaliser failed to materialise as he hit his shot straight at Carroll.
With four minutes left, Heskey went close yet again - his looping header landing just the wrong side of the West Ham crossbar. Seconds later Butt finally connected with a shot, forcing Carroll into a smart save low to his left.
As full-time loomed, Birmingham did finally get the ball into the back of the net courtesy of Heskey, although the home fans's misery was consolidated when the effort was ruled out for a blatant hand-ball.
|Birmingham City||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|1||1st Half Goals||2|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|9||Shots off Target||6|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|