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West Ham Utd 4 Portsmouth 3

Filed: Saturday, 10th September 2011
By: Staff Writer

West Ham United survived a worrying second-half period before going on to record their first home win of the season.

After 66 minutes of a pulsating clash between the two former Premier League clubs that contained seven goals, two penalties and two red cards, it was the visitors who looked most likely to go on and win the game.

But just ten minutes later, Steve Cotterill's side found themselves reduced to ten men and two goals behind after Sam Allardyce's team maximised the opportunity afforded to them by the dismissal of Liam Lawrence for a second bookable offence.

However West Ham were also to end a crazy game with ten men after match official Roger East, who had a poor afternoon, sent Frederic Piquionne back to the changing rooms just ten minutes after he came on as late replacement for Carlton Cole.

Sam Allardyce opted to include just one of his transfer deadline day signings in today's starting eleven with Henri Lansbury replacing Jack Collison, rested after his midweek exploits for Wales.

But West Ham's early enthusiasm - boosted by a near capacity crowd - was dampened after just eight minutes when Luke Varney's shot, that resulted from a corner just moments earlier, richoched off Carlton Cole and into the opposite side of the unfortunate Robert Green's goal.

The Hammers were to be behind for little more than 60 seconds, as with their first attack after the goal they levelled the scores through Matt Taylor. Yet once again a deflection played a part, with Taylor's fizzing effort catching a nick off the five-man Portsmouth wall as it sped towards goal.

Despite enjoying a short spell of sustained pressure thereafter - during which Mark Noble, free from the shackles of Scott Parker, excelled with a series of strong challenges and intelligent passes - it was the visitors who enjoyed the bulk of chances for the remainder of the half.

Norwegian international Eric Huseklepp should have restored Pompey's lead in the final minute of normal time at the end of the half when he found himself with the goal gaping as United's defence - not for the first time in the game - found themselves all at sea.

Fortunately for Allardyce's side, he failed to find the target - but it was a stark warning to the Hammers nonetheless whose defence had already been tested more than at any other stage during the season.

No less than four players were booked in a lively first half that should have seen at least one player - Pompey's Mokoena - walk after catching Mark Noble with a deliberate elbow, an offence for which he was only booked by Mr East.

The second period began quietly before bursting into life on 53 minutes when debutant Lansbury put West Ham ahead for the first time in the game. George McCartney, in for the shelved Herita Ilunga crossed to the far post where Julian Faubert nodded the ball back for the on loan youngster.

Lansbury instinctively fired at goal and his effort took a wicked deflection - via the unfortunate Jason Pearce - before nestling in the back of Jamie Ashdown's net, making it 2-1 on the day.

The England under-21 international's goal signalled the start of Portsmouth's best spell of the game, for having gone behind they began to put United under serious pressure. West Ham would hold out for just seven minutes before the visitors restored parity.

Huseklepp atoned for his earlier error by drawing his side level, although it's unlikely he will be credited with the goal - yet another that owed much to the intervention of an opponent.

His effort, from the corner of the six-yard box was prevented from crossing the goal line by the presence of Winston Reid before the New Zealander momentarily and inadvertently dragged the ball back over the line. Having then unsuccessfully tried to hack it away, Portsmouth's Benjani was on hand to send the ball back into the net to quash any doubt that a goal had been scored.

With a collective fire in the belly, Pompey continued to press forward no doubt believing that they could go on and win the game. However that ambition was all but destroyed when Lawrence - one of several players already on a yellow card - was dismissed for a studs-up challenge on substitute David Bentley with 67 minutes on the clock.

West Ham, under serious pressure until that point rallied once again - and within four minutes they had taken the lead for the second time in the game, albeit somewhat fortuitously.

Lansbury's juggling act on the perimeter of the penalty box saw Pearce harshly penalised for handling a ball that was aimed directly at him from about a yard away.

But that was of no concern to Man of the Match Noble who stepped up to place the ball beyond the despairing dive of Ashdown, who can at least take solace from the fact that he dived the right way.

The game was all but won after 76 minutes when Carlton Cole put West Ham into an unassailable two-goal lead with a first-class header from McCartney's deep cross. The England striker rose high above his marker to plant the ball in the top corner of the Pompey net; a real classy finish from the big man who now has four goals to his name already this term.

Despite the game being all but won there was still time for some late drama. Freddy Piquionne, who had been brought on to face his old club with five minutes of normal time remaining was sent off by referee East in the fifth minute of injury time for placing his hands in the face of Greg Halford after the two disagreed over something.

Less than a minute after the incident Portsmouth scored the game's seventh goal from the penalty spot after the referee awarded a ludicrous penalty to former Hammer Tal Ben Haim, who simply fell over in the penalty box in reaction to a loose leg left trailing by Noble.

Halford, whose theatrical slump to the floor had surely condemned Piquionne to an early bath moments before stepped up to fire confidently into the bottom corner to make it 4-3.

As he did so, the final whistle was blown before a restart was possible with the game well into the sixth minute of injury time. West Ham rise to fourth place in the Championship as a result of the win, just three points behind current leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.

West Ham United 4 Portsmouth 3: match facts

West Ham United: Green, O'Brien, McCartney, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Lansbury, Nolan, Faubert (Bentley 63), Taylor, Cole (Piquionne 85).

Subs not used: Boffin, Faye, Baldock.

Goals: Taylor (9), Lansbury (53), Noble (pen 72), Cole (76).

Booked: O'Brien (14), Nolan (48).

Sent off: Piquionne (90+5).

Portsmouth: Ashdown, Mokoena, Pearce, Halford, Ben Haim, Lawrence, Mullins, Norris, Varney, Huseklepp (Ward 78), Benjani (Futacs 83).

Subs not used: Henderson, Rocha, Kanu.

Goals: Varney (8), Norris (60), Halford (90+6).

Booked: Mokoena (20), Lawrence (27), Varney (40), Mullins (57).

Sent off: Lawrence (67).

Referee: Roger East (5).

Attendance: tbc.

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by g portugal
07:17PM 10th Sep 2011
''Despite getting the points and our first home win, this was a very worrying performance defensively. This was an average opponent and we made unnecessary hard work of it. Our attacking play and passing was good, but we simply did not defend well enough in the second half. A big improvement is needed if we are to get the points total we need from our home matches to win promotion. Away from home we have conceded only one goal - yet at Upton Park our defence seems very vulnerable.''

by Benjamin
05:31PM 10th Sep 2011
''Noble wasn't my MotM, that was Lansbury. Slightly worried at how average Nolan is looking as a player, I don't think he can be fully fit as he looks a bit leggy. He is a proper captain though so one must credit him for that at least. Bentley looked excellent when came on, he and Lansbury could be quite formidable as the season continues. ''

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