Hammers hang on at Blackburn
Ashton strikes to hand West Ham 1-0 victory
By James Dall. Last Updated: December 9, 2007 6:57pm
Ashton: Impressive 45 minutes
A second-half strike from Dean Ashton secured a 1-0 victory for West Ham United over Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
The first half was rather a non-event, with both sides reduced to speculative long-range efforts.
However, the introduction of Ashton did much to inspire The Hammers, and within seven minutes of the second half the striker took up a clever position in the six-yard box to tap home.
Ashton's goal sparked the encounter into life, and as the game begun to stretch, Mark Hughes' men piled on the pressure.
But Rovers were guilty of missing decent chances, specifically through Roque Santa Cruz who blasted over late on.
With three minutes remaining a stunning Tugay volley looked destined to hit the back of the net, but Robert Green reacted superbly to deny Blackburn a point.
This was undoubtedly one of those cliched games of two halves as the first was instantly forgettable, followed by a barnstorming second.
The game was played at a typically high Premier League tempo, but the number of mis-placed passes and mistakes ruined the contest in the opening period.
Too often moves broke down due to players failing to find a team- mate with an incisive pass when it was required most.
Instead, for the opening 30 minutes, all that warmed fans on a cold Blackburn evening were two long-range, yet close-shave efforts from David Dunn and Tugay.
Scott Parker initially threatened by stroking West Ham's first chance a yard wide in the 34th minute with a dipping shot from 25 yards.
Blackburn swiftly responded, forcing Robert Green into the first notable save made by either goalkeeper as he turned aside a close-range strike from
Morten Gamst Pedersen, with the winger in for the suspended David Bentley.
The game was in desperate need of an injection of vitality, and it arrived at the interval with Hughes replacing Aaron Mokoena with Robbie Savage.
That gave the midfielder his first taste of action since October 28 following a cartilage operation, but it was Hammers' substitute Ashton who made the immediate impact.
The 24-year-old striker, making his third sub appearance since recently returning from an ankle injury, was left unmarked in the 52nd minute to tap home his fourth goal of the season.
Solano fed George McCartney down the left wing and from the dead-ball line the left-back teased a low cross into the area where Ashton was free to score his first goal since September.
Mercifully, it led to the game opening up and so proving far more entertaining, with Green then pulling off a double save just five minutes later to preserve his side's advantage.
Green initially tipped away a downward header from Christopher Samba, and from the rebound he used his feet to deny Andre Ooijer at point-blank range.
That was followed 10 minutes later by Pedersen rifling an angled drive into the crowd from 12 yards when he should have at least hit the target from Santa Cruz's through ball.
Following Green's heroics at one end, Brad Friedel responded in the 73rd minute with a sprawling stop to a Luis Boa Morte strike into the turf after meeting a Solano cross on the volley.
If West Ham should have been 2-0 up, Blackburn should definitely have drawn level soon after as Santa Cruz missed two chances in a matter of minutes.
The Paraguay international first flashed a header narrowly wide after rising to meet a superb left-wing cross from Stephen Warnock.
But then after delightfully controlling a cheeky dinked ball from Tugay, he drove his 15-yard shot over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy and as Green advanced.
Ashton then sidefooted over a Cole lay-off as the latter had taken advantage of an injury to Ooijer that led to the Dutch centre-back limping off and leaving Rovers down to 10 men for the last seven minutes.
Even then Blackburn came close to claiming a point, but for Green brilliantly pushing over the crossbar a Tugay volley from 30 yards that had flashed through a crowd of players.
|Blackburn Rovers||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||3|
|10||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|