Saturday, December 20, 2008

West Ham 0 Villa 1

In the first half West Ham looked reasonable going forward and fragile at the back. Bellamy in particular looked lively up front and created a couple of decent chances for himself. His best chance came in the 12th minute when he got in behind the Villa defence and from a tight angle forced a save from Friedel from 7 yards.

The main danger for West Ham came from Scott Parker. Parker has run around in so many circles over the last few weeks that he now has no idea which way he is playing. As everyone knows Parker isn't allowed to pass the ball forward. Today with Parker unsure which way he was kicking this should have worked in West Ham's favour.

However in the 26th minute Parker spotted a Young run from deep and played a pinpoint pass to put Young clear, with just Green to beat. Young rounded Green but in doing so played himself wide of the goal. His shot across the goal then clipped the far post as it rolled wide.

Late in the half Behrami had a long range effort saved from about 30 yards and Villa almost scored on a counter attack. Throughout the half Lucas Neill put a lot of trust in the fact that his lightening pace over 50 yards would enable him to beat the slow Young on the wing. He therefore got forward as often as possible leaving Young free on the wing. Unfortunately with a few minutes to go in the half Neil, unbelievably, found he couldn't give Young a 20 yard head-start and Villa really should have gone into the break a goal up. Luckily Green saved Agbonlahor's weak shot.

Parker was replaced at half time by Mullins. This seemed to be a good move by Zola as West Ham went on to dominate the first half. In the 59th minute Cole should have got the opener when Neill crossed to the far post from the right wing. Cole from two yards just needed to keep his header down but, almost inevitably he headed over.

Just as inevitably in the 77th minute Milner shot from the edge of the West Ham box and his shot deflected off of Neil's leg, looped over Green, and nestled in the back of the net.

Fortune's always hiding.


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