Npower Championship
West Ham United 3-3 Birmingham City



Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan tries an audacious overhead kick with Birmingham bodies strued around him



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Upton Park 

West Ham remain in the hunt for automatic promotion after Ricardo Vaz Te's late penalty salvaged a point against fourth-placed Birmingham.

Chris Hughton's Blues looked set for an important and treasurable away victory when goals by in the first half by Jordon Mutch, Marlon King and Chris Burke put them 3-1 up at the break with Ricardo Vaz Te pulling one back for the Hammers on the stroke of half-time. But Sam Allardyce's side dominated after the break and Carlton Cole's low volley put them back in contention on 70 minutes. Vaz Te, who had earlier scored a header, then netted with a minute left from the penalty spot as the points were shared.

The draw leaves the Hammers- who destroyed Barnsley 4-0 at Oakwell in their previous match- three points behind second-placed Reading, who take on Brighton at the AMEX Stadium on Tuesday night in their game in hand. 

But the point will do little to appease those West Ham fans who have been frustrated with both the style of football played under Allardyce and a recent lack of form, which has seen the Hammers win just three of their last ten games especially recently at home.

A win for Birmingham would have seen them close to within three points of Allardyce's side, but they remain firmly in the play-off places after a ruthlessly efficient first half in which they clinically took their chances.

West Ham enjoyed early possession but Birmingham were solid and soon exposed the fragility of a home defence that has been impeccable for most of the season but has now conceded seven goals in two home matches.

With the Championship's leading two sides, Southampton and Reading, facing each other on Friday, this was an opportunity for West Ham to enhance their chances of returning directly to the Premier League but Birmingham City's opportunism and their own slipshod defending meant they made up only minimal ground.

Midfielder Mutch- who netted his first goal of the season in a recent 3-1 win at Burnley- opened the scoring after 27 minutes when he exchanged passes with King neatly, advanced forward, sidestepped Abdoulaye Faye before rifling in a left-footed shot from 25 yards which gave the goalkeeper little chance of stopping.



The draw means that West Ham have now failed to win any of their last seven Championship matches at home-  drawing six.


And top scorer Marlon King then doubled the Blues' lead three minutes later, breaking a static offside trap from the home defence to run on and finish low past Robert Green into the corner for his 17th goal of the season in all competitions.

Former Bolton and Hibernian striker Vaz Te, a January signing from Barnsley, gave the home side some hope at the end of the first half, heading in freely from a Mark Noble corner to score in his fourth consecutive game.

But there was still time for Chris Hughton's men to take advantage of more dismal defending in the first period and score a third in stoppage time. A corner was only half cleared by Faye and when Burke hit a scuffed shot back through a pack of bodies the ball somehow found its way into the corner.

West Ham dominated the second half but most of their attacking was predictable and it seemed Birmingham had only to retain their shape and win the many aerial duels to stay ahead. The loss of Guirame N'Daw to injury in the 68th minute was a significant blow as within two minutes that defence was breached.

The home side were much improved after the break and pulled a goal back with 20 minutes left when Cole was afforded time and space inside the area to control Kevin Nolan's pass and drive into the far corner.

Birmingham nearly responded at once when Nikola Zigic, who had come on moments before the goal, headed a cross by Burke inches wide.

And they drew level when referee Jon Moss pointed to the penalty spot after the shot of Hammers substitute Henri Lansbury struck the hand of Chris Burke inside the box. Ricardo Vaz Te took responsibility and drilled the penalty down the middle to secure a sixth draw in the last ten games for Sam Allardyce's men.


Adam Higgins
The Football Site-  Chief Football Editor

"It was a good comeback from West Ham but they had left themselves with far too much to do in terms of getting the win. They cannot afford to be drawing games at this stage of the season when they are behind in the chase for automatic promotion- one point does little when you are trying to overtake two good teams who are finding wins from anywhere. Birmingham deserve a lot of credit, having seen West Ham's dismal home record they decided to attack and it worked for them. They created chances and took them in the first half. They took the foot off the pedal in the second half and in the end paid for it in the final minute by conceding a penalty. Chris Hughton will still be pleased with his team while this looks concerning for Sam Allardyce- they were poor defensively throughout and never looked like a solid unit today which is uncharacteristic of them as normally they are organised and hard to beat. Cracks certainly appearing."


Monday 9th April 2012

Npower Championship

Upton Park


West Ham United 3-3 Birmingham City                         KO 5:20pm                (HT 1-3)

Vaz Te 45, 89 (pen)      Mutch 27
Cole 70                       King 30
                                 Burke 45


West Ham:  1 Green- 6.5/10, 15 Faye- 6/10, 2 Reid- 6.5/10, 5 Tomkins- 6.5/10, 3 McCartney- 6/10 (Collins 34- 5.5/10), 32 O'Neil- 7/10, 4 Nolan (C)- 7.5/10, 16 Noble- 7/10 (Baldock 82- 2.5/10), 12 Vaz Te- 8/10, 9 Cole- 7.5/10, 8 Maynard- 6/10 (Lansbury 45- 5.5/10).

Subs not used:  20 Demel, 14 Taylor

Booked:      Nolan (67), Lansbury (68)


Birmingham City:  1 Myhill- 7/10, 6 Ramage- 6.5/10, 4 Caldwell- 6.5/10, 24 C Davies (C)- 7.5/10, 3 Murphy- 7/10, 7 Burke- 7.5/10, 8 N'Daw- 6.5/10 (Zigic 68- 3.5/10), 12 Mutch- 9/10, 18 Fahey- 7/10, 15 Elliott- 6.5/10, 9 King- 7.5/10 (Townsend 80- 2/10).

Subs not used:  13 Doyle, 10 Huseklepp, 22 Redmond

Booked:      N'Daw (37), Zigic (72), Burke (87)


My Man of the Match:   Jordan Mutch (Birmingham City)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Abdoulaye Faye (West Ham United)- Rating 6/10



Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)- 7/10
Attendance: 31,045



Match Facts

Possession: West Ham- 42%                    Birmingham- 58%

Shots: West Ham- 17                        Birmingham- 9

Shots on target: West Ham- 9                   Birmingham- 6

Shots off target: West Ham- 8                   Birmingham- 3

Corners: West Ham- 12                       Birmingham- 2

Fouls: West Ham- 4                      Birmingham- 8

Offside: West Ham- 4                       Birmingham- 5

Assists: West Ham- Tomkins, Nolan, Lansbury                    Birmingham- King, Fahey



West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce

"The players, when we set out to win a game of football, they need to be aware of what the opposition do and what they don't do and what we did was play straight into Birmingham's hands in the first half. They are a fantastic team and we know that they have a fairly direct style like ourselves and we were aware of that when we struggled against them earlier in the season at their place. Chris (Hughton) has done great to balance all the different competitions with a small budget and threadbare squad as well as getting them in the play-off positions. On our side of hings, there wasn't enough determination in the team by the players who defended that corner to say these boys are not going to score here at all costs- we looked sloppy all night in defence. We've paid for a sloppy first half yet again and unfortunately while it's a magnificent comeback once again it's only one point and not three and three is what we wanted. You cannot concede three goals at home at this level and expect to win the game- the players were better in the second half and we kept a clean sheet in the second half which was pleasing. They still had their moments and had they got a fourth, they would have been over the hills and far away. Southampton and Reading are going to go all the way and we are blowing our chance with our home form being not as good as it should be."



Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton

"It's a good point here at a very difficult place to come to, you can only get the wins that you need to get and get the points that you need to get and you hope that some of the other results go for you when teams around you are playing and in recent weeks we have had that. West Ham are tough to play against because of the quality they have in personnel with many of the players retained from last season in the Premier League. Both games now between us have been drawn which is testament to the hard work and how difficult we have made it for them. And I think the results of late have been good for us but whether we get into that top six or not won't be down to other teams it will be down to us and how many points we can collect. If we can keep the momentum we've got at the moment hopefully we'll be OK. It was tough to keep it going for 90 minutes but we are a team that have come here and scored three goals. There won't be many that do that this season or in any season in fact. I've only got good things to say about my team and I thought we were excellent and well worthy of the draw - it's not easy playing two games in two days like we have especially with our small squad so the lads have come out of it well."


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