Tuesday, 6th August 2013
Hopes were high for Sam Allardyce's side ahead of this evening's Torneio do Guadiana clash, following last night's encouraging display against Sporting Lisbon. However the Irons - featuring Modibo Maiga in the pivotal striker's role - were a shadow of the team that had begun the tournament in such style.
United barely managed to fashion a goalscoring opportunity of note on a night when all of last season's concerns about performances away from the Boleyn resurfaced.
And whilst Andy Carroll's current stand-in can at least point to the lack of service provided in his defence, pre-season has done little to disprove the theory that suggests the Ivorian simply isn't suited to the role Allardyce and his coaching team want him to play.
The search for another attacking player continues in earnest, with Allardyce set to meet the Board again tomorrow upon his return from Portugal to discuss their next move. In the meantime, West Ham without Carroll is not a prospect to relish - especially with the start of the new season less than a fortnight away.
On the night, Allardyce opted to make nine changes from yesterday's starting XI - Maiga and James Tomkins the only survivors from the 3-2 win against Sporting. From the start, West Ham struggled to retain possession although Jack Collison, Razvan Rat and Mo Diame all had sight of goal in the opening half.
Still, the better chances of the first half came at the other end of the field where recent arrival Adrian was deputising for Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Spaniard didn't get off to the best start when he was fortunate to escape punishment having allowed an early shot to spill from his hands.
But there was little he could do when a James Collins error allowed Barbosa to shoot from distance; fortunately for the Hammers, it went the wrong (or should that be right?) side of the post.
Coelho had Adrian stretching when his 26th minute effort flashed narrowly wide of the post - and seven minutes later, a Santos free kick from the perimeter of the penalty area beat both goalkeeper and post - albeit by a matter of inches. However Braga's best chance of the half was to come six minutes ahead of the interval, when Carlos spurned a golden chance to break the deadlock.
Allowed to burst through the centre, Carlos laid the ball out wide to Barbosa whose return pass was perfectly placed for the Brazilian. Fortunately for West Ham, his effort flew high over the bar before removing an empty seat from its fixings - possibly the highlight of the first half.
Yet West Ham's good fortune was to run out with just over an hour on the clock, when Braga finally took the lead. Youngster Pelly Ruddock, only on the pitch for a matter of seconds having replaced James Tomkins lost his man and the ensuing shot was parried by goalkeeper Adrian, directly into the path of Rafa who drove it back into an empty net.
Thereafter West Ham struggled to make any impact in the final third of the field and Jack Collison's poorly struck, off-target 80th minute effort was United's only shot on goal as Allardyce's impotent charges limped to defeat in their final pre-season fixture away from the Boleyn Ground.
* West Ham's tournament briefly looked like ending on a high - of sorts - when the penalty shootout that followed the game (don't ask) saw United race into a 3-0 lead after Adrian saved Sporting's opening two spot kicks. However misses from Dan Potts and Mo Diame - one of the worst penalties you may ever see - allowed Braga to 'draw' (don't ask) the shootout 3-3.
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Man of the Match: Razvan Rat.
West Ham United
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Booked: None booked. .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Booked: None booked..
Sent Off: None sent off..