Saturday, 24th September 2011
Although West Ham and today's visitors were playing two divisions apart just six months ago here was little evidence of a gulf in class at the Boleyn this afternoon as Sam Allardyce's team struggled to break down a side who had lost three of their four away games so far this season.
But for a little more self-belief, the Posh could quite easily have left east London with something to show for their efforts. However Mark Noble's 11th minute penalty ultimately proved to be enough to win all three points for the Hammers.
In a win that was anything but comfortable or comprehensive, the Hammers failed to provide that cutting edge in the final third of the field - so much so that Posh goalkeeper Paul Jones didn't have a single save to make until second-half substitute David Bentley forced him into a smart stop with 78 minutes on the clock.
However Rob Green had even less to do than his opposite number and the England custodian had little more than a couple of fairly straightforward saves to make - after he had saved smartly from the unmarked Ryan Bennett's powerful header with just 60 seconds on the clock.
The only goal of a dour game predictably came from the penalty spot, but once again there was a touch of controversy about it. Julien Faubert's low cross from the left flank found Henri Lansbury, in for his third consecutive start since joining United on loan, some 14 yards from goal.
As the England under-21 international received the ball he was clipped from behind by Lee Frecklington before going to ground. Referee Tony Bates, officiating in his first fixture featuring West Ham despite having enjoyed a 14-year career had no hesitation in pointing to the spot before Noble stepped up to send Jones the wrong way.
That goal - Noble's second of the season following his effort against Portsmouth - should have signalled the start of an onslaught from the home side, whose free-scoring ways in the early weeks of the season have come to something of a sudden halt with not a single goal coming from open play in the last two matches.
However the Hammers failed to break down a resilient Peterborough side, superbly marshalled by the excellent George Boyd in midfield. The 25-year-old, who was playing non-league football as recently as 2007 looked a class about the majority of his team mates, who were guilty too often of giving the ball away in important areas and squandering possession.
That was an issue for West Ham too at times - Julien Faubert was particularly frustrating today before being replaced by the far more threatening David Bentley - although United's failure to add to the penalty scored by Noble resulted mainly from a lack of support in advanced areas, with a number of question-posing crosses wasted as a result.
Carlton Cole, despite leading the line well had few chances to extend his goalscoring tally of four so far this season, although he should have perhaps reacted quicker when sent through by Kevin Nolan with 22 minutes on the clock. Sadly for Cole his indecision allowed a chasing defender to intervene and steer the ball to safety.
He went rather closer to scoring with seven minutes of the first half remaining when his bending effort missed its target by inches - but bar a 53rd-minute header that narrowly missed its intended target from a pinpoint Faubert cross, that was as good as it got for the former England striker who was replaced before the hour was out having struggled with a cold this week.
West Ham's few decent remaining chances mostly came from long range - although Bentley's aforementioned 78th minute strike was heading for the corner of the net before 'keeper Jones' timely intervention.
At the opposite end, there were only really two further scares for West Ham to add to Peterborough's first minute chance; one on 63 minutes when substitute Lee Tomkin should have done better from 12 yards and then in the final minute of added-on time when a scramble inside the West Ham penalty area failed to provide an equaliser.
So despite the game being one to forget, Sam Allardyce's side still managed to eke out all three points which takes them to 17 for the season from eight games. By way of comparison, Avram Grant's side had to wait until December 28th last term before reaching the same total.
Should they continue to maintain that ratio of two+ points per game, promotion should be a formality for Allardyce's class of 2011/12 - although there will no doubt be far tougher challenges ahead than that provided by a disappointing Peterborough United today.
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Little to do on the day but dealt comfortably with anything that was thrown at him.
A good, solid performance from the full-back who's beginning to look stronger as the weeks pass.
Some great tackles but some incredibly poor distribution to boot.
A most promising full home debut. The veteran centre-half barely put a foot wrong and kept it simple throughout. Will be challenging Tomkins and Reid for a starting berth at this rate.
Another solid defensive display from the young New Zealander, who is clearly finding it a lot easier at Championship level than when thrown into the lions' den that is the Premier League last season.
Just about his best performance of the season? Some big tackles (plus one or two missed ones that on another day could have seen him cautioned) and some wonderful distribution, bringing both flanks into play.
The loanee - who continues to keep Jack Collison out of the squad - failed to take the game by the scruff the neck as he did on his debut against Portsmouth. Although he did win the penalty which ultimately earned us the three points.
Simply not at the races. Not for the first time this season.
Some decent crosses but there was rarely anyone in the box at the time to get on the end of them. Once again he went missing for large stages.
Although he hustled and bustled barely anything came off for him. It can't help when people are booing every misplaced pass or cross.
Always a major threat to an opposition defence, CC found it hard going as the lone striker in Sam's (rather unorthadox) 433 formation but should have done better with the rare chances afforded him. A touch of flu didn't help either.
(Replaced Cole, 56) The Norwegian looked a lot sharper than when appearing here last against Leeds United. He could prove to be a major asset as the season wears on.
(Replaced Faubert, 66) A couple of good touches and he forced the best save of the game out of Paul Jones.
(replaced Taylor, 90+1) On for the injured Matt Taylor he slipped in at centre half, pushing Winston Reid out to left back and McCartney into midfield. None of it made a great difference for the few minutes of added-on time.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Tony Bates.
Man of the Match: Abdoulaye Faye.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Joey O'Brien, George McCartney, Abdoulaye Faye, Winston Reid, Mark Noble, Henri Lansbury, Kevin Nolan, Matthew Taylor, Julien Faubert, Carlton Cole.
Goals: Mark Noble 11 .
Booked: Henri Lansbury 90 .
Sent off: None.
Paul Jones, Mark Little, Ryan Bennett, Gabriel Zakuani, Craig Alcock, Lee Frecklington, Grant McCann, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Emile Sinclair, George Boyd, Tommy Rowe.
Substitutes: Lee Tomlin (Ryan Tunnicliffe 46), Paul Taylor (Lee Tomlin 75), Daniel Kearns (Lee Frecklington 90).
Subs not used: Joe Lewis, Scott Wootton.
Booked: Grant McCann (84).
Sent Off: None..