Happy Hammers rock Blackpool
Blackpool 1 West Ham Utd 3 ROBBIE KEANE grabbed a goal on his West Ham debut, but it was Nigerian striker Victor Obinna who stole the headlines for the second game running as his double sunk Blackpool at a cold and windy Bloomfield Road.
All the goals came in a hectic first half, and there were some hairy moments for the Hammers after the break, but they were full value for their three points which hauled them off the bottom of the Premier League table.
Avram Grant went with three attackers in Keane, Obinna and Freddie Piquionne and it could have earned them a goal after just three minutes Piquionne’s pass across goal found Obinna, only for the striker to be denied by Richard Kingson’s diving save.
Gary O’Neil, making his first start for the Hammers, tested the keeper with a long-ranger, but at the other end Andy Reid fired inches wide as Blackpool looked to get a foothold in the game.
Charlie Adam, still a Blackpool player despite the interest from a whole host of teams during the window, prompted the home side into attack, but the Tangerines were dealt a savage blow on 24 minutes as West Ham took the lead.
Wayne Bridge’s cross was almost turned into his own net by Craig Cathcart, only for Kingson to tip over, but from a second corner the ball fell to Obinna on the far side. He jinked past his marker but his tame shot seemed like an easy collect for the keeper, only for him to fumble the ball into the net.
West Ham received a set-back when Danny Gabbidon limped off with an injured hamstring, replaced by Winston Reid, and the Hammers found themselves under pressure as Green was forced to tip over Reid’s dipping cross, before Alex Baptiste headed over the resulting corner.
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On 37 minutes, Keane marked his lively debut with an opportunist goal. Mark Noble’s free kick was nodded back by Freddie Piquionne to Obinna and the Nigerian was twice denied, before Keane picked up the pieces and finished like the top goalscorer he is.
West Ham are never more vulnerable than when they have just scored and on 42 minutes they gifted Blackpool a way back into the match.
Adam swung in a corner, Piquionne missed the clearance and Green, caught by surprise, was beaten at his near post for a horrible goal.
But just as West Ham hit back rapidly against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Saturday, they did so again in this match.
It was a vital goal and an absolute cracker as Obinna collected the ball from Scott Parker 30-yards out and thumped a stunning screamer into the top corner, giving Kingson no chance.
West Ham continued to push for more goals after the break. Keane twice and Piquionne both had good chances to stretch the lead, but as the half wore on it was Blackpool who started to take control.
West Ham seemed content to sit back, a strategy that has been far from successful in recent weeks, and Blackpool further enhanced their chances by bringing on former Hammer Marlon Harewood and James Beattie up front.
The failings of controversial referee Stuart Attwell were to play into West Ham’s hands as first James Tomkins and then Winston Reid were given let-offs after clumsy challenges in the box, while the Hammers defence didn’t help their cause much at times either.
Green’s clearance that went backwards saw him scrambling towards his own goal to retrieve the situation, while Reid’s air clearance almost gifted Blackpool another glorious chance, if Beattie had been more alert.
The home side were in complete control by now and allowed to throw crosses into the box almost at will.
They went closest of all when Neil Eardley’s free kick from the edge of the box beat Green, but rattled against the woodwork before running away to safety, while Harewood forced a decent save from Green with a swerving shot.
Blackpool are on a downward spiral though and they could not force their way back into the match as West Ham held on to secure the points.
Only Birmingham’s late equaliser against Manchester City prevented them from clawing their way out of the relegation zone, but they will have a chance to do just that against the Blues at Upton Park on Sunday.
Don’t get too carried away. There were still plenty of defensive failings as well as some questionable tactics and against a better team West Ham may well have been found wanting.
But a win is a win, and that is three goals scored for the second successive game. After the season they have had so far, West Ham fans must simply rejoice.
West Ham: Green 6, Jacobsen 8, Bridge 8, Gabbidon 6 (Reid 33, 7), Tomkins 8, Noble 8, Parker 8, O’Neil 8, Obinna 9 (Boa Morte 84), Keane 7 (Kovac 84), Piquionne 8.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.