Monday, August 29, 2005
West Ham 1-2 Bolton
Bolton Wanderers have ended West Ham's long undefeated streak over the weekend with a 2-1 defeat of the London club.
West Ham paid for their profligacy in front of goal (and Bolton keeper Jaaskelainen's fine form), with Marlon Harewood missing some fantastic chances, once lifting the ball over the bar when a simple touch would have put it in the net. Yossi Benayoun had a shot well saved by Jaaskelainen after he lost his marker with a sublime dummy shot and turn, and followed up with a curling left-footed shot, which was touched away at full stretch by the Bolton keeper. Benayoun also had a bullet header well saved, while Etherington, Konchesky, Reo-Coker and Gabbidon (with a brilliant backheel) also tested the keeper, but nobody could get beat him. Sheringham also saw his superb free-kick deflect off the underside of the bar after substitute Aliadere was brought down 20 yards out.
Carroll was also in fine form, denying substitute Ivan Campo, whose long shot was deflected onto the woodwork by the Northern Irish keeper.
The Irons midfield had a battling display, winning the ball brilliantly at times, but sometimes guilty of giving the ball away a little too easily. At other times, the movement and passing was excellent. Neither team really dominated the match, both teams playing well and needing to absorb periods of pressure. although West Ham probably looked the better team by a small margin. The result could have gone either way until Campo found himself in acres of space for the winning goal late in the match.
Harewood and Konchesky both had poor games. Harewood still shows little confidence in front of goal and had one of his worst games I've seen him play, rarely troubling the Bolton defence. Hopefully he will be back to his best by the next match. Konchesky's passing was poor, and was adequate defensively, except for a horrendous error where he went completely missing for Campo's winning goal, leaving substitute Ward to handle two Bolton players on his own. I still don't know what happened there. Konchesky's crossing was also poor, although he did get into good position.
Sheringham scored a late penalty after Mullins was brought down in the box, but Bolton held on comfortably to pick up their three points.
Despite the loss, West Ham fans can take heart that the team is showing much more fight and bottle than in our relegation season. Never at any time did the Irons give up; even during periods where they weren't playing well, they did not look complacent. However, it is imperative that we get a top class striker or, failing that, we need Harewood and/or Z-man to have a good run of form.
Pardew said after the match, "You would have to say we look competitive. I think Bolton would give us respect today for the way we approached the game, and for making them play at their maximum level. It's vital for us to make everyone we play against perform to their best. They might not have thought they were at their best today, but we were certainly a tough nut for them to crack.
"I don't want to be too harsh on our strikers today, even though Marlon did not have his best game. But on another day, he might have scored for us. We also have Bobby Zamora and Jeremie Aliadiere. There are players who have done so well for us, that I think it would be harsh to say we needed a new striker on the evidence of this game. I don't think we are desperate for a striker - although the chances we created have to go in at this level."