Sunday, 3rd December 2006
Yet no points are awarded for possession and chances- goals win games, and West Ham's unerring ability to waste good opportunities reeked of amateurism and perhaps betrayed a lack of self belief. They have only picked up one point away from home all season, a run which has also seen them score twice, and one of those a mishit cross by Bobby Zamora against Liverpool.
Alan Pardew spoke before the game of how his team was applauded of the pitch after winning at Everton last year, and in the first half it appeared as though a similar fate was awaiting them.
Pardew courted controversy this week after a minor row with Carlos Tevez who had reacted badly to being substitued last week against Sheffield United, and the Argentinian striker responded in terrific fashion, effortlessly running the game even in defeat.
Tevez was at the heart of all that was impressive about West Ham, constantly demanding the ball, taking defenders on and adopting a shoot on sight policy which other West Ham players would do well to imitate. Tevez made the visitor's best chance, jinking past Joleon Lescott- who later managed to comically clear the ball off the West Ham goal-line- and picking out Lee Bowyer in space, only for the midfielder to scuff his shot at Tim Howard.
All Tevez lacks is a goal, and he nearly found it with a brilliant run and shot which Howard did well to beat away. As for Everton, they offered little in the first half, even with a strong wind in their favour. It was that which almost allowed Andy Johnson to score. Anton Ferdinand failed to deal with Howard's long clearance, giving Johnson the chance to shoot, but Robert Green competently saved.
With West Ham having failed to convert their superiority into something more substantial, there was an air of inevitability about the second half. And sure enough, it was Everton who got the all important first goal. Paul Konchesky allowed James Beattie to cross, and when the ball eventually came to Osman just outside the area, he found two things: one, that West Ham's midfield had vacated all defensive duties, and two, the top corner with an unstoppable volley.
Pardew sent on Marlon Harewood and Teddy Sheringham in an attempt to find an equaliser. Both had chances, Sheringham missing a clear header and Harewood faring slightly better with a powerful effort well saved in the Everton goal.
But an equaliser looked unlikely. Osman's strike had sapped the confidence from the West Ham players, and as the minutes ticked away, instead of piling on the pressure, West Ham were picking the ball out of their net after youngster James Vaughan managed to drive under Green. The Hammers, perched just outside the relegation zone, travel to Bolton next. It could be a long winter.
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No chance with the first goal, flapped at one cross, kicking was disarmed by the wind.
Started ok, but got worse as the game went on. Guilty of ball watching and offered little going forward.
Allowed too many crosses in and passing was poor. Place severely under threat.
Too casual today, his game was littered with silly little errors.
Strong in the air, but backed off too much.
Solid first half, marred by poor second- he gave the ball away too much and Osman was left free to score.
Anonymous, lost the ball too often and is just a bit slow.
Got into good positions but wasted too many crosses.
Brilliant. Give him time and he will make things happen. He must always play now.
He tries, he does... but the talent just isn't there, and nor is a real ability to do nothing but still score.
(Replaced Zamora, 69) His pace gave us more options and we left wondering why he doesn't start ahead of Zamora. Was only denied by a very good save.
(Replaced Bowyer, 69) Should have scored.
(Replaced Spector, 84) Has hardly played so I don't want to be too harsh. I'll call his short cameo... interesting. At best.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez.
West Ham United
Robert Green, Jonathan Spector, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora.
Booked: Lee Bowyer 68 James Collins 78 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Howard, Yobo, Valente, Stubbs, Lescott, Osman, Carsley, Van Der Meyde, McFadden, Johnson, Beattie.
Substitutes: Weir (Osman 82), Vaughan (Van Der Meyde 72), Hughes (Beattie 90).
Subs not used: Wright, Vidarsson.
Goals: Osman (51), Vaughan (90).
Booked: Osman (62), McFadden (80).
Sent Off: None sent off..