Saturday, October 14, 2006

Portsmouth 2 West Ham 0

The first half of this game followed the pattern of recent Hammers' games with West Ham looking comfortable in possession and almost controlling the game. However for all West Ham's possession they seem unable to create goal scoring opportunities.

West Ham's only real attempts on goal were two long range efforts from Konchesky, who at the moment has difficulty finding his own player with a 15 yard pass, let alone hitting the target from 20 yards. But at least he took the gamble. The inevitable happened half through the first half when Kanu managed to get the wrong side of Anton Ferdinand to head in a cross from four yards. Kanu had another couple of wild shots on goal in the first half, which could have extended the lead but, luckily for West Ham, both sailed well wide.

In the second half West Ham had a couple of chances in the tenth minute when Sheringham was just beaten to an Etherington cross by Campbell and from the resulting corner Koncheshky actually hit the target from just outside the box, only for James to save low down to his left. Portsmouth themselves had a couple of good chances half way though the second half when Carroll saved well at close range from Campbell only to see the ball rebound to Dejan Stefanovic, whose close range shot was also blocked.

In the 70th minute Sheringham and Zamora were replaced by Cole and Harewood. But it was Rednapp's substitutions that had the greater impact as Cole came on for Mwaruwari and got Portsmouth's second after riding Spector's challenge in the box and then spinning and beating Carroll with a shot into the right corner.

After the game Alan Pardew acknowledged West Ham's problems up front,

"In that last third we are lacking a bit of genius and flair that can change the whole face of the team. Most of my strikers are pretty good on paper - but at the moment none of them are producing the goods for us."

West Ham's failure to keep clean sheets suggests there is also a problem at the other end and the failure to create chances for the strikers indicates problems in midfield as well. One of the problems up front seems to be that Zamora, Tevez and Sheringham all like to come deep or wide and seek the ball. Even though Harewood has not scored since last year's FA cup semi-final it might be worth starting with him and getting him to sit on the last defender, this would at least give us a target up front.

Apart from that it's a long wait until Ashton returns.


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