Hammers grab first league victory
West Ham United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0 FREDERIC PIQUIONNE’S first-half header lifted West Ham off the bottom of the table as they finally secured their first Premier League victory of the season writes STEVE BLOWERS.
West Ham United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
FREDERIC PIQUIONNE’S first-half header lifted West Ham off the bottom of the table as they finally secured their first Premier League victory of the season writes STEVE BLOWERS.
And as Harry Redknapp found himself managing a losing team against his old club for the only time since he left the club in May 2001, the Hammers’ striker’s second goal in five days also meant a first West Ham win over Tottenham Hotspur in nine games, too.
Predictably both sides had made wholesale switches following their Carling Cup ties in midweek and, despite seeing the Hammers record their first away win since the opening day of last season, at the Stadium of Light, Avram Grant still made half a dozen changes to the side that beat Sunderland.
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Matthew Upson, Robert Green, Danny Gabbidon, Lars Jacobsen, Kieron Dyer and Mark Noble were each recalled in place of James Tomkins and substitutes Marek Stech, Tal Ben Haim, Julien Faubert, Radoslav Kovac and Pablo Barrera.
And buoyed by their dogged draw at Stoke City and wonderful win at Sunderland, West Ham – in bottom spot - quickly found themselves on the attack as Victor Obinna fired wide inside the opening minute, Manuel Da Costa headed past the post, while Dyer saw another low, angled effort deflect off Sebastien Bassong for a corner.
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Indeed, only Bassong had survived Redknapp’s 10-man cull following fifth-placed Spurs’ embarrassing, extra-time derby demolition at the hands of Arsenal and, again, the Cameroon international found himself working overtime as the Hammers forced five corners inside the opening quarter-hour.
Carlo Cudicini was certainly the busiest keeper, denying both Dyer and Piquionne but at the other end, Green equally produced two spectacular, flying saves to fist away Jermaine Jenas’ rising 25-yarder and then turn Rafael Van Der Vaart’s shot around the post.
The long-suffering Upton Park faithful amongst the crowd of 34,190 were certainly enjoying West Ham’s best spell of a spluttering season to date.
All they needed was a goal.
And as the half-hour mark approached, Piquionne duly obliged, when he climbed high above Bassong on the edge of the six-yard box, to nod Mark Noble’s lofted corner under the right-hand angle.
The slippery Scott Parker then marauded into the area before being ambushed in the act of shooting and then Obinna saw another angled shot deflected wide as the Hammers set about doubling their advantage.
But as they jogged off at the interval, Avram Grant’s men also knew they had the rejuvenated Green to thank for their lead after the Hammers’ keeper somehow tipped Luka Modric’s swivelling screamer on to the crossbar, before denying the lively Van Der Vaart from point-blank range, too.
Jacobsen had also slid in to deny the perplexed Peter Crouch at the end of an intriguing first-half that that had also seen Luis Boa Morte booked for hacking Alan Hutton and Dyer worryingly replaced by Pablo Barrera.
Just after the restart, Tom Huddlestone sent a trademark 25-yarder just wide of the left-hand angle and then, on 55 minutes, the England midfielder burst behind the Hammers defence before rounding the exposed Green and inexplicably scuffing wide to the horror of the Spurs’ fans packed into the lower tier of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
Midway through the half, the limping Piquionne was replaced by Carlton Cole and after Obinna forced Cudicini into another full-length save, Spurs brought on Robbie Keane for the ineffective Aaron Lennon.
Obinna’s perfect pass found Cole whose tightly-angled shot flew behind and then having tried his luck from 20 yards, Noble saw the Spurs’ keeper divert his shot on to the roof of the net.
With a quarter-hour remaining, the grounded Cudicini was in thick of things once more, but neither Boa Morte nor Obinna could force the ball over the line after Barrera’s low cross caused havoc in the Spurs six-yard box.
Both Giovanni Dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko came on for Van Der Vaart and Crouch, but their late arrivals could not stop hard-working West Ham from breaking that Harry hoodoo and recording a first victory over Tottenham since their famous lasagne-gate win on the final day of the 2005/06 campaign.
HAMMERS: Green, Jacobsen, Gabbidon, Da Costa, Upson, Dyer (Barrera 42), Parker, Noble, Boa Morte, Piquionne (Cole 64), Obinna (Kovac 88). Unused: Stech, Ben Haim, McCarthy, Faubert
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Cudicini, Hutton, Corluka, Bassong, Bale, Lennon (Keane 65), Huddlestone, Jenas, Modric, Van Der Vaart (Dos Santos 78), Crouch (Pavlyuchenko 80). Unused: Pletikosa, Palacios, Kranjcar, Sandro.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.